What do workers want in a job? We asked 1,250 people – and they responded. SEE OUR NEW REPORT

Don’t rock the boat: stable and secure is the way to float

This is a modified section from Workable's comprehensive new survey report on the Great Discontent in 2023 in the United States. Visit here to see the report in full.

What’s happening in the evolving US job market right now? We have data for you on what’s most important to workers in a job right now and how that’s changed since 2021.

What do US workers want now?

Our Great Discontent 2.0 survey report contains a wealth of data revealing how employee priorities in the US have changed since 2021. Learn more here.

View the report highlights

Top 3 takeaways

  1. Job security is more important now, up to 38.6% from 32.1% two years ago
  2. Career advancement is growing as a job attractor from 15.8% to 22%
  3. Compensation is still the top consideration for a job across all scenarios

Job security is always important, of course – people need to put food on the table and to pay their bills, so they’re reliant on that employer-employee arrangement where they provide their services in exchange for compensation. It’s the basic structure of labor.

Naturally, it would follow that one side of that equation would have leverage over the other. One may have a luxury of choice that the other may not have. In the last few years, we saw employees exercise their leverage by pushing for higher salaries, more flexible working arrangements, and better working conditions.

But now, things have shifted again. Job security is growing in importance for US workers when evaluating the value of a new job. In 2021, 32.1% considered job security as a significant factor in what they’d find attractive about a new opportunity – and this climbed to 38.6% in 2023.

This suggests a desire for stability and predictability among workers who are rattled by the weird chaos of the post-pandemic economy. Workers now want to be able to count on a reliable income stream for the foreseeable future.

The percentage of workers looking to move to another job overall is also dropping. Why fix what ain’t broke, right? When workers would rather stick with something they already have rather than go into the wild blue yonder looking for new roles, that suggests they’re valuing stability over opportunity. It’s another effect of the uncertain times we’re living in right now.

What else is growing in importance for workers who are looking for new opportunities? Career advancement. In 2021, 15.8% of workers in the US considered this a major factor in changing jobs – that’s since climbed to 22%.

But it’s still mostly about the money

Money still talks. No matter how you look at it, compensation in the form of salary, perks, and benefits is still the top priority for all workers regardless of the situation they’re in – whether they’re looking, whether they’re staying in their current job, or anything else.

Comp is also growing in terms of attractiveness when potential candidates are being wooed to a new job – from 62.2% in 2021 to 68.9% now.

Interestingly, we asked active jobseekers why they’re looking for a new opportunity, and we found that compensation dropped in terms of importance from 63.4% in 2021 to 58.5% now. What’s growing in importance for those who decide to start looking for a new job are, yes, career advancement opportunities and meaningfulness of work (25% now compared with 20.8% two years ago).

Job security in itself is valued hugely – that much is clear. And compensation is part of that security – when a worker gets paid more, that’s security in the form of personal finance.

Even a focus on career advancement can be indirectly related to workers’ desire for greater security – people don’t want to be just mercenaries brought in to do a specific job with an end date to that job. They want to flourish, grow, and evolve in their existing role. They want to be invested for the long haul.

Today’s workers are looking beyond the financial aspects of a job, seeking roles that offer intrinsic satisfaction. Plus security and stability, too.

What can you do?

1. Promote job security

As job security grows in importance, employers should communicate the stability of their organization and roles during the recruitment process.

You can demonstrate this by showcasing a strong company history, financial stability, and a reliable pipeline of future projects. Your careers page is a great opportunity to show off all this stuff about you.

2. Highlight growth opportunities

With career advancement becoming more important to workers, employers should highlight opportunities for career growth in their organizations.

This can be communicated by promoting examples of career progression within the company, mentoring programs, and opportunities for ongoing professional development. Again, put this in your careers page in the form of employee testimonials and workplace videos.

3. Keep your salaries competitive

Despite the growth in importance of job security and career advancement, compensation remains key. Ensure ensure your compensation packages remain competitive, encompassing not just salary but also benefits and perks.

This can demonstrate your commitment to rewarding and retaining your employees – leading to a happier and more productive workforce in the end.

Frequently asked questions

What do US workers want now?

Our Great Discontent 2.0 survey report contains a wealth of data revealing how employee priorities in the US have changed since 2021. Learn more here.

View the highlights

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