November 27, 2023
According to a new poll from United Culture, salary is what makes most people feel fulfilled at work. More than half of employees (55 percent) ranked it as their key consideration, ahead of ‘softer’ factors such as doing something worthwhile (41 percent), or working with people they like (39 percent). It also ranks significantly higher than opportunities that will play out over the longer term, such as having a clear sense of career progression (37 percent).
The Work Remastered research report surveyed more than 1,000 workers across the US and UK. The full report explores six key themes: leadership, the role of line managers, diversity and inclusion, values and purpose, fulfilment and remote working.
Salary was most likely to be perceived as the key factor in workplace fulfilment by older employees (58 percent of those aged 45-54 and 70 percent of those aged 55-54). Overall, women prioritised salary ahead of men (58 percent compared to 53 percent).
Although pay (marginally) remained the primary fulfilment consideration for employees just starting their careers (41 percent of 18-24-year-olds), that age group was most likely to care about others in the organisation sharing their values (40 percent) and about receiving recognition from their manager (36 percent).
Victoria Lewis-Stephens, Global CEO at United Culture, says: “There’s undoubtedly an element of self-interest in the workplace at the moment. People seem less concerned with what their managers and peers think of them than earning a decent salary, or doing something that offers them a personal sense of worth. However, employers shouldn’t see this as an excuse to downgrade their approach to training and developing their managers and leaders. Fulfilment at work is one part of the broader workplace experience – and line managers especially have a vital role to play in making that experience positive as well as productive.”
The study further highlighted that 58 percent of employees placed salary and a good benefits package as their top priority to consider when seeking a new place to work. This was followed by flexible working, with 49 percent of employees prioritising it in their job searches, and a good company culture, which was rated important by 43 percent of the sample.
Victoria Lewis-Stephens concludes: “You might assume that a decent salary, a sense of worth and flexibility would be the magic formula for happy employees. And actually it’s fine if people just care about the money in these straitened times, so long as both parties understand the mutual contract and are respectively holding up their end of the bargain.
“When the economy improves and people feel confident to move jobs again, then leaders will need to think beyond remuneration. While shared values aren’t a priority right now, it doesn’t mean this factor won’t rise back up the agenda in the longer term.”