Over two-thirds (70% of women and 65% of men) see work-life balance as being more important than their pay and employee benefits combined (selected by 60% of women and 57% of men).
Having job security and feeling secure about the future of a role or organisation is the third most important consideration for over half of respondents, followed by job satisfaction (57% and 53% respectively).
This is according to a survey by HR and payroll software provider CIPHR, which also found that Two-fifths (42%) of employees rank a healthy work environment (42%) within the top five most valuable aspects of a job.
This can encompass numerous other factors, such as feeling psychologically and physically safe at work, feeling recognised, appreciated and valued, feeling trusted and included, and being listened to, among others.
Rising inflation and the UK’s cost-of-living crisis have put a lot of pressure on employers to increase wages and starting salaries this year, yet employees nonetheless value a work-life balance more.
Other aspects of a role
Only around a quarter cite career advancement opportunities or job autonomy – the freedom and trust to do a job without being micromanaged – as important priorities (25% and 24% respectively).
Job purpose and variety, and learning and development initiatives, are also, surprisingly, even further down the list of importance, selected by just a fifth of workers (20% and 18% respectively). Also less than one in 10 (9%) think regular coaching and feedback is an essential element of a job.
The top 20 most important aspects of a job, ranked by popularity, are:
- Work-life balance (67%)
- Pay and benefits – total rewards package (59%)
- Job security (57%)
- Job satisfaction (53%)
- Healthy work environment (42%)
- Recognition: feeling valued and appreciated (37%)
- Feeling safe at work (36%)
- Feeling included / belonging at work (33%)
- Right to disconnect from work outside of usual working hours (26%)
- Promotion opportunities / career progression (25%)
- Job autonomy – trusted to do a job without being micromanaged (24%)
- Clear goals and targets (23%)
- Correct tools for the job (20%)
- Job purpose and variety (20%)
- Learning and development initiatives (18%)
- Social connection (18%)
- Team-oriented culture (17%)
- Transparent leadership (15%)
- Fewer meetings (9%)
- Regular coaching and feedback (9%)
Whether an employee has flexibility in where they work has a bearing on the results (although it doesn’t alter the order of the four most important job aspects – work-life balance, pay and benefits, job security, and job satisfaction).
Work-life balance is by far the most-valued job aspect for nearly four in five (79%) remote workers, compared to two-thirds (66%) of workers who are either partly remote or who never work from home.
The right to disconnect from work – and not feel obliged to do any unpaid work-related tasks outside of one’s contracted hours – also appears higher in the list for employees who work 100% remotely, compared to those who don’t (36% vs 25%).
Staff who are office or workplace-based, on the other hand, are more likely to see greater value in job aspects that relate to their physical workspace and working among other people, such as a healthy work environment (47%), feeling safe at work (40%), and feeling included and belonging at work (38%).
Chief People Officer at CIPHR, Claire Williams, chief says:
“CIPHR’s latest findings highlight that salary often isn’t the key driver that many people think it is. People rarely have just one single aspect of a job that matters most to them: there are always a variety of factors that govern whether an individual will join, stay, or leave an organisation, and these will vary depending on where they are with their career at the time.
“Everyone has their own idea of what work-life balance looks like to them. For some, it means looking for more flexibility at work – such as flexible hours, a four-day week, or remote working – while for others it’s an aspiration that helps shape their career choices, the type of roles they want, and the employers they want to work for. It’s certainly not a new concept, but there’s no doubt that the pandemic has spurred many people to re-evaluate their work-life priorities and change how they want to spend their time at work.
“While employers are still navigating what this means in the long term, they do need to recognise that if they are not meeting their staff’s current needs and priorities – particularly around any core job aspects that they want and value – it’s likely that another organisation will.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.