Workers Willing to Compromise on Salary for the Right Benefits, Culture, and Growth Opportunities

Base salary isn’t the sole driving force for most workers when considering a job offer, according to a new report from Hays, the world’s largest specialist recruitment agency. While salary remains the biggest consideration, it is outweighed by the combination of benefits, company culture, and career growth when deciding whether to accept a job offer or stay in a current role.Happy workers

The Hays US What People Want Survey gathered insights from more than 2,000 employees, offering a snapshot of the priorities of the American workforce when it comes to salary, benefits, culture, and career development. Respondents were asked about what they considered to be most important in their current role and when considering other opportunities.

Seventy one percent of respondents said they would take a pay cut for their ideal job, leading Hays to recommend that employers focused on attracting top talent should look beyond base salary. Almost two-thirds of respondents said they would accept a drop in base salary in exchange for an increase in performance-related bonus. Generation Y are the most likely to accept a pay cut either for their ideal job (74%), or for an increased bonus (68%).

However, employers may face an uphill battle for retaining their workforce. Less than half (44%) of respondents are happy in their current role and 81% said they would consider leaving their current role for the right offer. Those most at risk of leaving are Generation X employees, who reported feeling more workplace stress, less work satisfaction, and were more likely to be considering leaving, compared to other generations.

“Workers today expect more than just a paycheck from their jobs, and they are willing to compromise on base salary to find the right fit,” said Dan Rodriguez, Hays US president—in a press release. “We hear every day from candidates looking for a company culture that fits with their core values. Strong leadership, open communication, work-life balance and career development are only going to become more important for attraction and retention.”

Survey Key Findings:

  • Getting past the paycheck: The survey indicates that there is an expectation that work should deliver more than just a paycheck. This shift may partly be attributed to the rise in Millennial workers, now the biggest cohort in the workforce with Baby Boomers bowing out. As this group reaches their mid-30s and become managers and senior managers, preferences for informal work environments and increased focus on career growth are becoming more pronounced in the workforce. Generation Y was most likely to say they would take a pay cut of more than 10% for their ideal job.
  • Curating culture: There is no shortcut to strong company culture. While free lunches and team drinks are ‘nice to haves’, open communication, strong leadership, and work/life balance top people’s wish list. 47% of people actively looking for new positions say company culture is the main reason.
  • Beefing up benefits: Benefits are almost as important as culture when considering a job offer, with a signing bonus and financial support for training topping the ‘most wanted’ list. Employers who offer health and dental, 401k contributions, and paid vacation time are probably not standing out from the crowd. Three-quarters of employers offer health and dental and two-thirds offer 401k and 3+ weeks of paid vacation.

Additional Findings:

  • 80% would take a contract position if it offered more of what they want.
  • 23% of active job seekers would take a new position without a pay increase.
  • By age:
  • Generation X are unhappy, overwhelmed, and ready to move. Only 41% are happy in their role, 51% experience high or very high workplace pressure, and one-third say they are ‘highly likely’ to consider leaving their current role. Generation X rate work/life balance very highly for company culture and more than half say they want benefits such as time off in lieu, paid overtime, ability to work from home, and flexible work hours.
  • Millennials/Generation Y rank career growth highest of all demographics when considering a job offer and weigh salary lower compared to other generations. Asked what contributed to career growth, this age group showed they are savvy about what it takes to excel at work, citing internal job opportunities, relationships with their manager, exposure to senior leadership, and networking as most important.
  • Baby Boomers are most likely to be satisfied in their current role (48%), and least likely to consider leaving (77%). Those who say they would leave prioritize salary and culture as the main reasons they would consider another role.
  • About skilled contractors:
    • Respondents who said they prefer contracting were 19% more likely to say they were happy in their current role and are experiencing less workplace pressure than full time workers.
    • Salary makes up almost half (49%) of the decision to accept a job offer, which is 17% higher than full time workers. Culture is 22% of the decision, which is 10% higher than full time workers.

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