Work/Life Balance Required

Randstad study finds salary and benefits knocked off top spot for job choice.

For the first time in seven years, work/life balance has overtaken an attractive salary and benefits package as the most desired factor when choosing an employer. The findings come from the latest global employer brand research 2021 report from Randstad, an independent survey of over 190,000 individuals in 34 countries. The shift could be the result of the flexible and remote working structure imposed on the nation over the past months.

When over 9,000 UK respondents were asked what the five most important drivers were when it comes to choosing an employer, work/life balance was the most desirable for over two thirds (65 per cent). Unsurprisingly, following company downsizing, furloughed employees and redundancies across the country, job security still ranks among the top five drivers, for six in ten.

The most important drivers when choosing an employer:

Work life balance: 65 per cent

Attractive salary and benefits: 64 per cent

Job security: 61 per cent

Good training: 58 per cent

Pleasant work atmosphere: 55 per cent

When splitting respondents into blue and white collar groups, 59 per cent of blue collar workers consider work life balance as the most important driver, compared to 68 per cent of white collar workers. The 2021 survey also found that a desire for a better work life balance grows with age, with 70 per cent of 55-64 year olds prioritising it compared to just 59 per cent of 18-24 year olds.

“In some respects, the profound changes in many people’s jobs has clearly brought the benefits of flexible working to the surface,” said Randstad UK CEO Victoria Short. “Our data suggests there are two groups of workers who want to see a more balanced lifestyle here. For many, remote working has increased the number of hours they are connected to their employers, reflecting the need for a better lifestyle balance. At the same time, some have benefitted from working at home by being able to carry out tasks or juggle personal responsibilities around a more flexible work schedule.

“Interestingly, our findings revealed a stronger appetite for a better work life balance in the UK compared to the rest of Europe,” she adds. “Overseas, an attractive salary and benefits package still holds the top spot in terms of the most important aspect when choosing an employer. For me, that suggests some lessons to be learned from the UK around promoting flexible working patterns.”

Research into the disconnect between what employees want and what their employer offers in the UK encompasses everything from safety and career progression, to salary, security and company reputation. The new findings indicate a significant gap between the two, highlighting the need for leaders to keep their ear closer to the ground in order to remain attractive to a wider range of future employees.

An evaluation of current employer offerings revealed that work/life balance is further down the priority list, sitting in sixth place. Looking at the general perception of what employers across the UK offer as a whole, work life balance slips even further down, to eighth place, highlighting an oversight of the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Victoria Short said: “Understanding the gap between what employees want and what they think employers offer provides valuable insight into building a strong employer brand. Benchmarking against what employees perceive being offered by their current employer gives more context to the gaps that need to be bridged in order to create a credible name and the ability to attract the UK’s most sought-after talent.

In order to gain credibility in a market where we are slowly seeing candidates regain control and confidence, business leaders must be proactive in listening to the opinions of workers, and ensuring that they are actively encouraged to share their voice via the relevant channels.”

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