What do your employees really care about when it comes to their jobs?

By Fiona Scott on 6 March, 2019


Have you even asked them and listened?

In a city like Bath and a county like Somerset where employee retention and recruitment can be a challenge and where unemployment is relatively low, having a true understanding of what employees want from their job is important.

National Careers Week this week aims to encourage companies to think about their employees’ wellbeing and happiness and new research has asked British workers about the things they most want from their work.

The top three considerations – according to the survey – are:

  • Salary
  • Working Hours
  • Location & Enjoyment 

The YouGov survey of 2,000 adults, commissioned by the Oxford Open Learning Trust, found while money is still the biggest motivator behind career choice (64%), and over half of the respondents cited working hours as an important factor (55%). 

The survey suggests people are striving for a healthy work-life balance, and ‘enjoyment’ is listed as the joint third most considered aspect during the job search process. Finances are still central to a lot of career changes, however half of respondents say they would follow their heart and look for jobs which align with their personal interests.

The top then most important factors when choosing a new job were:

1. Salary: 64%

2. Working hours: 55%

3 & 4. Location: 50% & Personal Interest and Enjoyment 50%

5. Job security: 40%

6. Working environment: 37%

7. Opportunities for progression: 26%

8. Opportunities for training / learning a new skill: 23%

9. The opinions of my family / partner: 12%

10. Status: 9%

What do employers in the area think of the survey and its findings?

Isabel Gainsford is the regional leader for the networking organisation 4Networking and covers members across North Somerset. She also runs her own business in Bath called The Brand Beneath.

She said, “I am acutely aware our members increasingly value a healthy work/life balance above most other factors. Choice and flexibility in how, where and with whom we work are typically key reasons for being self-employed or starting a small business. This survey suggests the employed workforce are looking for similar ways to follow suit.

“Financial reward will always be important. However, more and more people in work are clocking on to the fact it’s their quality of life that ultimately matters the most.”

Zara Coney heads up the new South West office of the strategic creative design agency Hamilton-Brown. Locally the team which works in the B2B sector has four staff, nationally the company has 90 team members. 

Zara Coney, Hamilton-Brown

Zara says, “I absolutely agree with the findings, I cannot stress the importance of workplace wellbeing and the power of flexible working enough. Salary is important of course however, I believe, people want and need more than that. They want to be able to do a job they enjoy, they want to have time for their families and friends and they want to live rounded lives. I want this for myself and for my team members. At Hamilton-Brown we are investing in both workplace wellbeing and flexible working to empower our staff and make them happy. We believe this increases productivity and loyalty.”

Dan, operations manager of CMD Recruitment which has an office in Bath, said, “One thing we’re seeing increase in employment is the keen interest in what companies are offering in their benefits packages; it’s now a candidate’s biggest deciding factor when we discuss potential vacancies with them.

Dan Barfoot, CMD Recruitment

“Also, we always try to educate our clients that sometime they don’t need to focus on skillset, it’s about the person and how keen they are to learn and develop (‘adaptable’ is the highest ranking word in CVs that employers look for). 

“Recently, with the change in the levy it’s much easier and cost effective for our clients to train and invest in their employees, meaning they’re able to hire more junior level people and train them up internally – another great selling factor when we’re speaking with candidates.”

The team at Purple Lime who work with several Bath-based companies and are based in Corsham, went one step further and did a poll of their staff – their findings differed considerably from the survey. Their top three were:

  • Working environment
  • Working hours
  • Personal enjoyment

Their next priorities were: 

  • Salary – ‘not top of the list for any of our team’ – 
  • Job security
  • Location
  • Training, new skills
  • Opportunities for progression

Bottom of the list was:  

Status – in line with the national survey. 

Angela Ashworth, Purple Lime co-founder, said, “We have a range of ages here from 20s to 40s and we’ve found work/lifestyle balance and enjoyment are critical to retain staff and is something we support.

Angela Ashworth, Purple Lime

“We like to have a fun team environment with some core hours in the office each week. This also enables us to deliver our services consistently and efficiently. Alongside we offer working from home as required and flexibility of time around core hours.  We encourage all the team to maintain physical and mental well-being and try to support them in this.”

The survey was commissioned to launch the Profession Picker tool, designed to help adults who are thinking of making a career change. Each year, the Oxford Open Learning Trust serves learners might need an extra qualification such as a GCSE or A Level in order to get their desired job and start a new career. For details visit: http://www.ool.co.uk/the-profession-picker/