Lots of research out there showed that post-COVID, priorities were work-life balance, non-monetary benefits, social responsibility, and more. Although the issue of talent scarcity continues, concerns about the economy have once more made financial compensation the #1 priority.
In 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 47 million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs. This along with “quiet quitting” – when employees continue to put in the minimum amount of effort to keep their jobs, but don’t go the extra mile for their employer, was spurred on by Covid-19. People were burnt out. And at the time – work flexibility became the #1 need of workers. Situations such as parents having to watch and even teach kids while schools were shut down were great examples of why the priorities were more than just monetary compensation. With the economic instability that followed the global pandemic, money is again what people are searching for in their new roles.
We all know that money is important, but why is it so important to workers now? An article by hrdive.com, based on research of more than 1,000 global workers conducted by United Culture, states that 55% of workers view a good salary is the top priority to feel fulfilled in a role. “People seem less interested with what their managers and peers think of them than earning a decent salary and doing something that offers them a personal sense of worth…This focus on salary could in part be explained by the current economic volatility and the cost-of-living crisis.” This creates a new tension between worker and employee as annual merit increases and bonuses are lower than in prior years. In 2023, the median merit increase was 4.3%, although some employers gave higher raises to selected roles. Research conducted by BusinessInsider projects a median increase of 4.0%. After projected inflation, this would mean a net gain of 1.4% for the worker.
As we move to the future, we have to look at what is going on around us. There has been an economic shift and a cost-of-living crisis that must be accounted for when hiring employees and contingent workers. As businesses continue to see spiraling operating expenses while their shareholders demand higher levels of profit, cost-cutting will remain a priority. At the same time, workers are seeking more. When considering a new position, or evaluating an existing one, take a comprehensive look at the pros and cons. In addition to base salary, total compensation must include bonuses, cost of commuting, opportunities for advancement, benefits, and more. In addition, when building a career one must consider the opportunity to learn, enhancing one’s skills and experiences. Consider whether a full-time position or a series of contingent assignments best meets your career goals. Simply chasing money will result is a series of short-term, unsatisfying experiences. Recruiters today place equal emphasis on skills and fit with the culture of the company. If you lead interview discussions with compensation requirements you will be passed over for positions that might be the gateway to future success.