Workers view work-life balance as more important than pay, study finds

Workers view work-life balance as more important than pay, study finds
Workers clean the glass of an office building at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) at Gandhinagar, India, Dec 8, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters file

Workers prioritise their work-life balance over pay when considering their next role, with training in areas like tech and artificial intelligence (AI) also valued, a study by the world's biggest employment agency Randstad showed on Wednesday (Jan 17).

The annual study found that 57 per cent of workers would not accept a job that would negatively affect their work-life balance, including flexibility like working from home, while 55 per cent would decline if they were not offered significantly higher pay.

Overall, also taking into consideration current roles, work-life balance ranks as highly as pay on workers' list of priorities, with both appearing in 93 per cent of the lists.

AI adoption, which has displaced some jobs and put others at risk, is pushing workers to re-skill. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they valued in-work training, including in potential roles, with workers in industrial sectors that have been harder hit by automation valuing it more. "If your job would by and large disappear, because AI is taking over 80 per cent of it, then employee and employer need to work on where there is still demand for skills," CEO Sander van't Noordende said in an interview.

He predicted there would still be demand for jobs involving "people working with people" such as in healthcare, hospitality, or public transport. An ageing population in some countries means there will be demand for nurses, he said.

The survey - which covers 27,000 workers across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas - showed that 39 per cent of respondents don't want to progress their careers because they're happy in their roles.

"Talent is rethinking what ambition means, putting work-life balance, flexibility, equity and skilling at the heart of career decisions," van't Noordende said in the report.

While 37 per cent of respondents would consider quitting if asked to spend more time in the office, the state of the economy is making some of them cautious about switching jobs.

"You have to listen, and you have to navigate as a company, because you can't afford to lose a third of your people," van't Noordende said,

While 54 per cent of respondents considered their employer's stance and actions on social and political issues important, 40 per cent of the younger "Gen Z" generation feels their generation is misunderstood by their employer, the study found.

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