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Report: US workers say money isn’t everything, but they do expect good pay and benefits

A new survey finds that many of the workers of the Great Resignation are making significantly more than they did at their Before Times jobs. What else are they looking for? Flexibility.

Remote work, and the work-life integration it brings, remains high on worker wishlists. (Photo Ivan Samkov from Pexels)
The Great Resignation is paying off.

Nearly a third of workers who left their jobs during the pandemic now have new roles, and are making more than 30% more than before. That’s from a recent Conference Board survey of more than 2,600 predominantly professional and office workers in the US. Respondents were surveyed on their compensation, job benefits, and what impacts their plans to stay or leave.

These higher-paying jobs aren’t necessarily ensuring that workers feel financially stable, however, as well more than half of surveyed workers — 62% — worry their paychecks won’t keep up with rising inflation.

The survey results offer data points that can help employers navigate hiring and turnover during a complicated economic time for workers and businesses alike, as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape significantly, and workers, as evidenced by the Great Resignation, are less likely to stay at a job that doesn’t meet their needs.

One important takeaway for prospective employers is that, while workers are worried about money and expect to be paid well and on pace with rising costs of living, the paycheck is only part of what they’re looking for.

In the past, employers, especially in the tech space, have enticed talent with onsite gyms, meditation rooms, ping pong and free beer. These kinds of amenities can help ward off workplace stress and increase productivity. With the pandemic rise in remote work leaving a lot of these kinds of amenities unused, what workers in the 2020s want more than anything, along with a good salary and retirement plan, is workplace flexibility.

Overall, the survey found four primary reasons workers would quit their job: To find a job with better pay (43%), because their current job lacks career advancement (32%), a lack of remote work flexibility (31%) and general disappointment with the company (27%).

What will keep employees happy?

  • For 72%, company contribution to a retirement plan
  • For 71% (77% of women and 63% of men), workplace flexibility, with millennials prioritizing it more than Gen X and Baby Boomers
  • 64% (71% of women and 54% of men) said generous paid time off, with millennials prioritizing it more than Gen X and Baby Boomers
  • Equity awards (stock options or stock grants) are important to 42% of men, but just 26% of women.

When considering quitting, workers say they would accept a counteroffer if:

  • They’re offered a promotion (29%)
  • They’re offered a 30% or higher increase in their base salary (21%)
  • They’re offered a 21-30% higher increase in base salary (21%)
  • They’re offered flexible work location options (20%)
  • 11% say they would not accept a counteroffer

Remote work has become a priority for many workers — 79% value its work-life integration, though just 30% said that remote makes it easier to balance the demands of child or elder care — and is expected to remain common for tech and “office” workers after the pandemic. But very few (7%) said they would take a pay cut in exchange for working remotely. They may be saving time and money on commuting (73% responded that they are), but trying to take some of those savings back is likely to backfire.

That’s not to say that at least some workers aren’t open to any kind of trade off. About a quarter of respondents would accept a trade-off for working remotely if it was a new role in the same (25%) or different (25%) business unit. And 18% would accept a move from manager to individual contributor if it included the option to work remotely.


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