Following a huge shift in demand for greater flexibility and hybrid working, there’s an increased imbalance between what employers and what employees think is working.  

We’re also seeing a change in attitudes towards career paths, progression, and what employees want in the future world of work.  

In a recent Michael Page survey, we asked 154,547 North American workers their opinions on what they look for when seeking a new job, what they really want from a dream role, and what they’re avoiding this New Year.  

The results are in, and we have uncovered some interesting insights into what employees want and how they feel about their future careers. With US employee engagement hitting record lows, it’s clear there are many factors at play in creating ultimate job satisfaction. But what exactly does it take to secure today’s workforce? 

1. What do Employees Really Want?

Today's employees are seeking more than just a job—they're after a holistic career experience. When asked what is driving their job search for the New Year, unsurprisingly 36% cited wanting a higher salary as their top priority, but coming in directly behind included: 

  • Looking for a career change (35%) 
  • Want a different company culture (29%) 
  • Looking for a better work-life balance (36%) 

The pandemic and subsequent economic and political volatility has forced society to examine how we spend our time and energy, and so it comes as no surprise to see this shift towards employees wanting a better work-life balance. The key takeaway to bear in mind when making your next hire is how you offer your employees more flexibility.  

2. Career Progression is Key 

With a large portion of respondents revealing they feel their employer should offer more training opportunities to help them progress, it comes as no surprise that almost the same amount (37%) plan to move jobs to develop vital new skills.  

Consider these thought starters when evaluating your employee engagement strategy: 

  • Are you offering your current employees learning and development opportunities?  
  • Is there enough internal mobility for employees who do want to try something new? 
  • Have you clearly communicated opportunities for progression and expectations of what’s needed to level up? 

With 37% of North American workers looking for a new job opportunity in order to develop new skills, putting robust processes in place will make you stand out as an employer of choice, as well as increasing the retention rate of your current workforce. 

3. The Age of The Digital Nomad: Too Good To Be True?

The rules governing work are being rewritten each day. Post-Covid, many who ditched the office permanently in favor of remote work, have since reported a change of heart, seeking to return to their comfort zones. We’re seeing a rise in anecdotes surrounding poor mental health, struggles with finances, and lack of community placing a strain on the digital-nomad lifestyle.  

While the wanderlust may be wearing off on some, many still desire greater flexibility and opportunity to weave in their travel dreams: 

  • 18% are willing to move jobs for unlimited holiday allowance; and  
  • 17% are seeking the option to work abroad in 2024. 

Whilst digital nomads were typically envisioned as creative freelance workers in the past, we are now seeing spikes of interest across sectors like finance, IT, and telecommunications as well.  

For employees, having the ability to work anywhere in the world unlocks a rare opportunity to both work and travel freely. For employers, this tech-savvy community not only offers a source of affordable digital skills that they might not have had access to before but also brings the benefit of a geographically widened candidate pool.  

How Can You Navigate What Employees Want? 

As the leading reason to find a new job, 50% of workers desire a higher salary. Access our 2024 salary guides for the latest insights to inform your hiring decisions and remain competitive in today’s talent market from the outset. 

Read through more of our expert management advice to make sure you’re attracting and retaining top talent in your business.  

Looking to hire? Request a call back and one of our industry specialists will be in touch to help you find the best talent available. 

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