Flexible working takes a back seat to salary as inflation bites

flexible working and salarySalary is now the most important factor (40 percent) for those looking to make a move as cost-of-living crisis squeezes budgets, claims a new survey from Michael Page. In a week in which UK wage growth was shown to still lag behind the cost of living, the poll suggests that salary is now the number one priority for workers, with flexible working seen as less important. The survey of 2,000 UK office workers claims that over a quarter (28 percent) are currently on the hunt for a new job, rising to 43 percent among those aged 18-34. This points to hopeful times ahead for businesses seeking talent, with recent ONS figures showing that open job vacancies hit a record 1.3m between November and January.

Despite flexibility dominating priorities throughout the pandemic, the stark reality of inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze means that four in ten (40 percent) have cited salary as the primary driver for searching for a new role. This is compared to three in ten (30 percent) who put flexible working top – suggesting that the tables have turned as a result of the current economic climate. Added to that, among those who said they ‘are not currently looking for a new role’, being offered a significant pay rise in another role would be the top factor (49 percent) in persuading them to consider moving.

Despite its overall importance, promises of increased remuneration elsewhere isn’t the only thing giving workers itchy feet. Over a quarter (26 percent) of employees say that they feel there is a lack of recognition for their contribution in their current role – a complaint likely to be particularly heightened among those who stayed loyal during the pandemic.

Some (22 percent) feel that their current company doesn’t provide enough job security, and a quarter (27 percent) felt that there was not enough career progression available to them. The research also revealed that three in ten (31 percent) candidates are put off applying for roles because they don’t think they have the right skillset.

Doug Rode, Managing Director, UK&I at Michael Page, commented: “These findings reflect the fast-moving times we are living in. The pandemic got people thinking about their newfound workplace expectations and, a year ago, flexibility might have overtaken salary in the checklist of job priorities. However, with inflation rising and the cost-of-living crisis putting pressure on workers across the country, it’s clear that the tables have turned once again.

“Businesses searching for top talent should be aware that these crucial aspects are the things that could nudge potential candidates in their direction. It’s important to know, though, that just offering one element may not cut it – in this climate, job seekers will be searching for a proposition that covers all of their top drivers.”