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Salary overtaken by work-life balance in employee priorities

Young female employee relaxing on the grass in a park

What are job-seekers looking for in a new role? Many people's priorities have changed since the pandemic, according to new research from Aviva.

The survey of over 2,000 employees found that more were attracted to their current role for the work-life balance (41%) than the salary (36%).

This is a switch in rankings compared to findings in 2019, when more workers said they were attracted to the salary, followed by work-life balance in second place.

It comes after large numbers of people worked from home for an extended period of time during the pandemic, giving many employees a new perspective on the sort of work-life balance that was possible.

"Before the pandemic, it would have been difficult to imagine a time when employees would pick a role for the work-life balance over the salary," said Laura Stewart-Smith, head of Financial Wellbeing at Aviva. "The pandemic seems to have shone a light on the importance of being able to juggle family-life, exercise-life, dog-life -- whatever the lifestyle -- with work-life. Getting this balance right for employees and employers is a tricky one but if successfully achieved it can often mean a happier and more productive workplace."

Beyond work-life balance and salary, the perceived importance of the employee benefits package and pension contributions have both remained consistent over the past three years, ranking in seventh and eighth place respectively as reasons for taking a current role -- ahead of bonus in ninth place.

Almost 9 in 10 (88%) employees said that workplace benefits (other than salary) improve their overall happiness, and a similar proportion (87%) said they want to see improvements to their workplace benefits package over the next 12 months.

However, in a separate survey of more than 500 employers, over half (53%) -- and nearly two thirds (62%) of SME employers -- said they struggle to offer competitive benefits to their employees, with cost cited as the main reason.

"The workplace benefits package on offer and the level of employer pension contributions are clearly both still important to employees in a post-pandemic world. However, it is a tough time right now and it's understandable that employers might be feeling like they struggle to provide a competitive package," Stewart-Smith said.

With firms of all sizes facing economic challenges, the first priority when it comes to assessing your employee benefits package is ensuring you're making the most of what already exists.

"Employers can only get the best return on investment if employees fully understand and utilise the benefits available to them and key to achieving this is good engagement," Stewart-Smith explained.

"It is important when communicating the workplace benefits package to be sensitive to the financial challenges people might be facing in the current climate and employee case studies of those who have benefited may be a useful tool in bringing to life what a workplace benefits package can do for other colleagues.

"Employees may be able to help improve their situation by taking-up the benefits which are on offer. It might be a surprise to some what their employer has on offer -- for example, financial education seminars, salary sacrifice, higher pension contributions, low-cost loans, or childcare vouchers."

Posted by Fidelius on August 30th 2022

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