Top 5 Things Employees Look for in a Job

If we learned anything from running a business through a pandemic, it is that resilient employees are the true lifeblood of a company. This has prompted organizations to better understand and completely rethink how to attract and retain better employees. 

In 2022, Gallup asked 13,085 U.S. employees what was most important to them when deciding whether to accept a new job offered by a new employer.

In some areas, the results were not surprising (money talks), but other areas have shown a significant shift in what the workforce is looking for and the benefits that they value. 

Income was still the number one motivating factor with 64% of respondents saying they would leave a job for a significant increase in salary. However, a close second with 61% of respondents, said that work-life balance and personal wellbeing was the most important factor in taking a job.

These key job attributes along with the following top 5 things employees look for in a job are now defining the war for talent. Any convincing job offer will likely need to address most of these key areas: 

1. Employees Want a Purpose 

People want to make a difference. They want to know they are appreciated, important and valued. This is why it’s important to lay out the purpose for a job position, lay out clear goals, and give them the tools to succeed. Employees who are unclear of their purpose, their goals, or their responsibilities at work are disinterested and ready to look elsewhere. 

2. Employees Want Independence

Unless you are managing an assembly line, give your employees freedom, flexibility, and independence. Study after study shows this actually makes your workforce more productive. Daniel Pink, the Washington D.C.-based author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, says, “Let people figure out the best paths to the goal, rather than breathe down their necks all the time.” This may include setting up a flexible vacation policy or a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) system that enables employees to work from anywhere. This involves a great deal of trust, but, as Pink says, “If you don’t trust your employees, you’ve got much bigger problems.”

3. Employees Want to Do What They Are Good At

You don’t take your best accountant and put him in sales. People want to have the opportunity to do what they are already good at. Employees who have already been gifted or trained in a specific area, usually find it stimulating and want more. Workers who aren’t allowed to use their strengths leave. Employees whose responsibilities are always changing will often seek out jobs where they get to do the things they actually like doing. During recruiting, take extra effort to understand what is really exciting to the candidate and what they take a personal interest in. This will give you a better idea of how their strengths can be used to support the company. 

4. Employees want Support

Just because you give your employees independent and unlimited vacation doesn’t mean they don’t want guidance and feedback. They still want to become their best selves with concrete feedback and encouragement. More importantly, personal support is the human dimension of management. Today’s employees want an employer who will support their personal life. For instance, they are looking for a company with lenient policies regarding vaccine requirements and COVID policies. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the traditional annual performance review is enough. Today’s employees are looking for much more.  

5. Employees Want Transparency

Gone are the days when the CEO has all the information and everyone else is in the dark. Employees should be cognizant of where the organization’s going. The communication channel between a manager and his or her employees should always be open and honest. 

Don’t Forget About Money

At the end of the day, your employees work to provide for themselves and their families, so, of course, salaries, bonuses, and benefits are important. Very few employees will take the lowest paying job in exchange for feeling good at work. There must be balance. The best way to use money is to pay your employees enough to take the issue of money off the table to allow them to focus on their work, performance, relationships, and innovation. Once they understand their families are fully protected and their job security is strong, that’s where the real magic happens.  

The Bigger Picture

Today’s businesses don’t have the restriction of location, office space, or business hours. You can now attract and retain better employees with a broad lens and expand your company’s potential. There are several untapped pools of talent such as the “home force” – parents who’ve put their careers on hold to care for children, or aging relatives. The retired population may be willing to work a few hours a week to continue to use their specialized talents and skills. Part-time, contract, and gig workers make up a larger percentage of the workforce than ever and create amazing success in companies across the globe. The best talent may reside anywhere, the trick is to know what they are actually looking for.