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

UK workers want clarity and growth, not a hard day’s night

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

What’s happening in the seemingly ever-shifting UK 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 UK workers want now?

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

View the report highlights

Top 3 takeaways

  1. Job clarity is more important now, up to 22.5% from 16.8% two years ago
  2. Career advancement is growing as a job attractor from 28.3% to 37.8%
  3. Compensation is still the top consideration for a job across all scenarios

You can’t have a thriving garden if you don’t give your flowers the opportunity to blossom and your plants to grow.

Such is the same when it comes to running a business. Career growth is climbing in importance for UK workers when they’re thinking about applying for (and accepting) a new job opportunity.

According to our new survey in 2023, 37.8% of UK workers considered this a significant factor in what they’d find attractive about a new job, up 9.5 points from 2021.

Clear as the daytime sky

Also growing in importance is clarity about job expectations and responsibilities. That’s cited as a major decision factor for 22.5% of all UK workers in 2023, up from 16.8% two years ago.

This suggests greater dissonance in the workplace over the last few years leading to worker frustration about what they’re expected to do in the jobs they’re hired to do. And moreover, the increased uncertainty in the overall social and political fabric specifically in the United Kingdom (thanks to Brexit, prime minister turnover, and of course, COVID-19), and it’s understandable that a UK-based worker will find clarity in their job to be refreshing. At least something is clear!

Show them the money – and then some

Even with all of that, compensation still reigns supreme. Be it in the form of salary, perks, or benefits, what a worker gets in exchange for their work is number one in the list of job attractors in the UK with 68.8% citing that as a deciding factor in a career move. That’s only down slightly from 70.1% in 2021.

That’s not much of a change, right? Wrong. For those workers who are actively looking, we asked them why they’re actively looking. There’s a huge increase in active jobseekers citing more money as a reason – 66.4% now compared with 53.5% in 2021. That’s a phenomenal 12.9-point increase.

But tangibility doesn’t mean everything. Those actively in the hunt for new work are also putting greater value on “meaning” in their job – 23.1% cite that as a priority in 2023, up from 16.6% in 2021.

Workers today want clarity in their work, and they want to feel like their work means something to them. Add greater compensation and the three top-growing priorities are very clear in the mind of those working in the UK.

What can you do?

1. Promote the opportunity of the work

As career growth grows in importance, employers should promote the real value of working for them – in short: if you work with us, you’ve got a bright future.

This can be demonstrated by showcasing longer-tenured employees and their accomplishments, the strong company history, and a pipeline of future projects.

2. Highlight clarity and meaning of the job

In a world of seemingly unrelenting change, the least an employer can offer is stability and clarity in the job itself. And make it really mean something.

Ensure that your job expectations, responsibilities, and overall OKRs crystal clear from the get-go, and promote the value of the work beyond mere pounds.

3. Keep your salaries competitive

Compensation remains key. Employers should ensure their compensation packages remain competitive, encompassing not just salary but also benefits and perks.

This can demonstrate a company’s commitment to rewarding new employees who sign up for the long haul.

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