For the first time in seven years, work-life balance has trumped salary as the main thing prospective employees look for in a job.
Research by Randstad revealed that 65% of workers ranked it as the most important consideration when looking for a new role.
In second place was having an attractive salary and benefits package, cited by 64% of respondents. This was followed by job security (61%), good training (58%) and a pleasant working atmosphere (55%).
When looked at more closely, the study found white-collar workers valued work-life balance the most over their blue-collar peers (68% versus 59%), while a desire for a better lifestyle balance grows with age. On this latter point, 70% of 55-64-year-olds prioritised this compared to 59% of 18-24-year-olds.
The data also revealed that UK workers had a greater propensity for wanting a better work-life balance than those in the rest of mainland Europe.
Commenting on the findings, Randstad UK CEO Victoria Short said: “Profound changes in many people’s jobs has clearly brought the benefits of flexible working to the surface.”
She added: “Our data suggests there are two groups of workers who want to see a more balanced lifestyle here. For many, remote working has increased the number of hours they are connected to their employers, reflecting the need for a better lifestyle balance. At the same time, some have benefited from working at home by being able to carry out tasks or juggle personal responsibilities around a more flexible work schedule.”
As well as a desire for a better distinction between home and work, the study further found that nearly half (48%) of 55-64-year-olds reported a decrease in their salary last year.
Engagement levels had suffered too, brought on by Covid-19 (Coronavirus)-induced remote working. A fifth of survey respondents said they plan to leave the comfort of their current employer to explore new opportunities – and within the next few months.
Short said: “We found nearly half (45%) of employees in the UK are not afraid of losing their job this year. There is clearly an appetite for securing a better role elsewhere, for one in five people.”
The survey takes place annually, and this year’s one polled 190,000 people in 34 countries.