What employees really want – and no, it’s not money

Today’s perception of a happy workplace is littered with fun extras designed to motivate employees – from table tennis to napping pods, and everything in between. But it seems the key to a happier workplace – and workforce – is much simpler than Insta-worthy #workperks; just invest in their development.

New research into the nation’s job satisfaction has revealed that employees who feel their employers invest in their development are more satisfied with their jobs, find more meaning in their work, and are less likely to consider quitting than those who have little to no access to training opportunities.

The survey of 2,000 UK professionals, commissioned by Jellyfish Training, found that more than half (51%) of the working nation would choose progression over a pay rise, with a third (33%) confessing they would even be willing to take a 3% pay cut just to have access to better career opportunities.

It’s not all about the pay cheque and #workperks

While 90% of those surveyed say “a payrise boosts morale in the workplace,” four in 10 (41%) agree that if given the choice, they would prefer their employer to invest in training so they can “upskill and feel challenged”.

When it comes to the most important elements of a job, pay rises and work perks like yoga, pilates and table tennis didn’t even make the top 5:

  1. Colleagues (45%)
  2. Flexible hours (44%)
  3. Meaningful purpose (42%)
  4. Praise and recognition for their work and career progression (both 40%)
  5. Training / learning and development opportunities (33%)

Jamie Hammond, MD at Jellyfish Training, comments: “All too often companies are investing in unique perks they think will motivate and engage employees. Our research highlights that whilst weird and wonderful benefits like unlimited holiday and massages might be something to shout about whilst recruiting, the secret to retaining a happy workforce is not as complex. Simply, you need to put the employee first.”

According to the survey, more than a quarter (26%) would be willing to take a pay cut for better mentorship with one in 10 willing to say goodbye to at least 5% for good mentorship opportunities; more than a third (37%) will consider a pay cut for flexible working with almost a quarter (23%) willing to give up 3% of their wages; and 4 in ten will take a cut of at least 3% for long-term job security.

Progression, People and Purpose

The research delved further into employee motivations, touching upon culture, collaboration, meaning and opportunities, and uncovered three key buckets of motivators: Progression, People and Purpose.

When it comes to ‘Progression’, more than half of professionals want a job that provides autonomy (54%), allows them to use their strengths (82%), and promotes learning and development throughout all levels of the business (79%). More than a quarter (28%) of respondents also identified a lack of learning and development and training opportunities as the number one reason why employees begin searching for new jobs.

‘People’ captures the culture of the workplace and the important role colleagues can play in making or breaking a career within a company.

Whilst almost half of those surveyed agree colleagues are the most important element to happiness in the workplace, a fifth also confessed that clashing with colleagues was the single biggest reason for leaving a previous role. In fact, when peer support is scrutinised, more than one in 10 don’t feel “adequately supported”, with almost a quarter (23%) trusting Google more than their managers in a time of need.

The research also revealed that employees want to feel respected (87%), cared about (83%) and their work recognised by others (80%).

‘Purpose’ refers to the feeling that a job has a motivation beyond profit, with almost half (43%) of respondents confirming they would be willing to be paid less if they were doing a job with a “meaningful impact”.

Hammond continues: “Today’s workforce see benefits like flexible working as a common necessity, not a perk, so employers need to consider what the new fundamental motivators are. These three motivators are the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When fulfilled, people will do their best work. When broken, people will be less satisfied and committed, which will lead to dips in performance.”

Author: Editorial Team

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