Workers Want Work-Life Balance and Belonging More Than Upward Mobility

The new year has barely begun, and thousands of jobs have been cut across a variety of industries. According to this article, most of the job cuts are in the technology industry. Many executives attribute the cuts to ongoing efforts to reorganize or to “right-sizing.” Still others believe that it is a desire of corporations to maximize profits. Whatever the reasons, workers continue to be laid-off by the thousands. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report, the U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, a huge boost that was around twice what economists had expected. Why the discrepancy? Some believe that rather than investing in people, the technology industry has plans to invest in AI ─a concept that is not lost on today’s workforce. According to the Randstad’s 2024 Workmonitor report, where 27,000 workers worldwide were surveyed, 72% of employees noted the importance of training and development opportunities. Nearly a third said they’d quit a job if they weren’t offered opportunities to “future-proof” their skills in areas such as training around AI.

Here are some additional statistics from the Randstad’s 2024 Workmonitor report.

  • 83% of workers value and want mental health support from employers.
  • 60% of respondents indicated that their personal lives are more important than their work lives. Work-life balance now ranks as highly as pay on workers’ lists of priorities (93%) — more than any other considerations.
  • 51% of those surveyed said they are happy to stay in a role they like even if there is no room for career progression.
  • 38% said they would not accept a job if they did not agree with the views of the organization’s leadership.

Key Themes and Take-Aways

The authors of the report noted that a new sense of ambition and motivation is emerging, which emphasizes work-life balance, flexibility, equity, belonging and upskilling. These areas are at the center of workers’ career decisions. 

  • Ambition & Motivation: Ambition is more than climbing the career ladder and workers’ motivation is not necessarily driven by promotions. Over a third don’t want career progression because they are happy in their role (39%), and the long-term ambition for most respondents is a stable in-house role.
  • Flexibility: Workers want schedule flexibility (81%) to accommodate all of their priorities.
  • Equity & Understanding: Workers want a more equitable workplace where they feel they belong. They are looking to build connections so that they can present their full selves and work with organizations to improve equity in the workplace.
  • AI & Skilling: Training is crucial for workers in order to prioritize the future-proofing of their skills, particularly in light of the growing adoption of AI. 

The report indicated that despite these expectations, workers don’t appear to feel as confdent about leaving positions if their priorities are not met. For instance, in 2023, 54% of workers said they would quit a job if they felt they didn’t belong, which dropped to 37% for the most recent report. This shift could be driven by increased concern about layoffs, with 45% saying they’re worried about losing their job this year, as compared with 37% in 2023.

The report suggests that employers’ talent strategies will need to acknowledge these changing priorities and offer more creative paths to advancement that align with the different ambitions of their employees.