Are Office Perks Passé?

Is it time to lose the ping pong table? The majority of active job seekers would sacrifice amenities for a job that offers professional development opportunities, according the latest Workplace Survey.

Despite recent trends, job seekers are less interested in a potential employer’s perks and culture, and more interested in the mainstays of career pathing and professional growth, according to the Addison Group’s fourth annual Workplace Survey. The survey aims to better understand what attracts candidates to new positions, employee job satisfaction, career goals, and professional values.

“Each year we put out the Workplace Survey to gauge how employees, specifically, candidates and job seekers, view their careers, and we’re always fascinated by the results,” said Tom Moran, CEO of Addison Group. “Workplace sentiments are in constant flux, and this year, it seems that job seekers have reoriented their focus squarely on the more transactional elements of the workplace — gaining new skills, career pathing, and overall professional development. To hire and retain the best talent, we need to understand as an industry how to accommodate this desire.”

With a bullish economy, salaries on the rise and a tight market for talent, the actively employed have a loose grip on their current jobs and are less concerned with remaining employed and more concerned with getting ahead and making more money.

Career-Oriented Candidates

Findings from the survey indicate that job seekers today are more concerned about career opportunities than a fully-stocked kitchen or in-office arcade. Job seekers are leaving positions in search of new challenges, value skills much more than personality, and don’t care much for office perks.

  • Get rid of the ping pong tables: 80 percent of active job seekers said they would be willing to sacrifice office amenities for a job, while more than 70 percent said they would be willing to work weekends and holidays for the right job.
  • Skills over chemistry: People aren’t looking for friends at work, with 76 percent saying they value skills over personality in hiring someone. Job seekers should keep this in mind as they pursue new roles, underscoring how their skills and capabilities will augment the team.
  • New challenges: 40 percent of job seekers are looking for fresh challenges in a new job, pointing back to subsequent findings around how job seekers feel they need to be doing more in their career.
job seekers
(Credit: Addison Group Workplace Survey)

“Frequent job-hopping has become the norm in today’s employment market,” said Moran. “The survey shows that candidates are as career-oriented as ever, with the desire to challenge themselves at work, and put in the extra hours to advance.”

Job Seekers Still Satisfied At Work

Given the heads-down attitude of respondents, it’s no surprise that the survey found that 7 out of 10 active job seekers still report being satisfied at work. Of course, when breaking this sentiment further, non-job seekers are almost 25 percent (22%) more satisfied with their career path than active job seekers. One of the most notable gaps in workplace attitudes between these two groups, however, was whether they found deeper purpose in their work.

  • For some, a job is a job. 84 percent of active jobs seekers view their job as just a job, once again highlighting the transactional approach of job seekers. Only 41 percent of non-job seekers feel this way.
  • Anxiety over career growth. 60 percent of non-job seekers feel they are on track in their careers, compared to 85 percent of active job seekers who are concerned they should be doing more to get where they want in the future.
  • Who wants to leave? Job seekers tend to be younger with 48 percent ages 18-34, and have an average income of $77,200. In terms of gender, job seekers are almost evenly split, with 52 percent female and 48 percent male.

“We operate in a candidate’s market, which means job seekers can be more demanding about what they want out of their next role,” said Moran. “People want career fulfillment, and it’s not surprising that younger job seekers are more bullish on making a move to achieve their goal. They often have greater personal flexibility to accommodate those career pathing jumps.”

What Candidates Want

Neither active nor passive job seekers are just going to jump to anything, which is where the power of the candidate’s market is more evident. Job seekers value salary, followed by employer loyalty and office location, as the most important factors in a new position.

  • Feeling valued means as much as money. Working for a company that values employees is just as important as salary for job seekers.
  • People don’t quit managers. Contrary to previous beliefs, only 17 percent of job seekers said they were looking for a new job because they didn’t like their manager.
  • Willing to go the extra miles. 72 percent of job seekers said they would be willing to take a longer commute for a new job.
job seekers
(Credit: Addison Group Workplace Survey)

“Salary remains vital when it comes to retaining and attracting candidates, while bad managers might not push away employees as much as previously thought,” said Moran. “Based on our respondents’ sentiments, it seems that today’s job market is less about staying and building something at a company, and much more about building a career for yourself.”

Generational Anxiety

When it comes to their career paths, the survey showed that the three major generations that make up the workforce, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials, are all happy with their progression. However, confidence and sentiment toward their jobs and employers varied significantly.

  • Boomers being left behind. 55 percent of Millennials believe their industry is leaving Boomers behind. However, only 34 percent of Boomers are worried they should be doing more in their career; compared to 69 percent of Millennials and 63 percent of Gen Xers.
  • Youthful enthusiasm. 64 percent of Millennials said they were on the path to their dream job, compared to 54 percent of Gen Xers and 46 percent of Boomers.
  • Late retirement. 52 percent of Boomers and 55 percent of Gen Xers were concerned they weren’t going to be able to retire when they want; compared to 35 percent of Millennials, who likely aren’t thinking too much about that.

More than half of Boomers and Gen Xers think they’ll have to retire at an age older than their parents, compared to 30 percent of Millennials. So, while the majority of employees overall are happy in their careers, anxiety remains over career path and retirement.

“Employers should no longer be in the stage of figuring out Millennials in the workforce. Millennials are the workforce,” said Moran. “Our research shows also that while they see the most potential for themselves, they still are anxious about their future — this means they are always looking for the next opportunity.”

The full survey results and more information can be viewed at Addison Group’s website.