What drives worker fulfillment? Cash, apparently.

Dive Brief:

  • Fifty-five percent of employees said a good salary was a top factor that made them feel most fulfilled at work, according to a United Culture survey of more than 1,000 global workers. Collaborating and “doing something worthwhile” were the next most frequently cited factors, while workers placed less emphasis on feeling valued by co-workers, sharing values with peers and receiving recognition from a manager.
  • Similarly, salary and a good benefits package were top factors for workers in seeking a new job, with flexible work ranking just behind.
  • “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,” the study’s authors wrote in an accompanying report. “This focus on salary could in part be explained by the current economic volatility and the cost-of-living crisis.”

Dive Insight:

While a variety of factors contribute to employee fulfillment, workers have indicated in recent polls that despite a strong interest in training and flexible work options, the value of cash is still near and dear to their hearts. 

As United Culture noted, a strained economy may be sending workers back to the fundamentals of a good salary and benefits package. Although recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the long-heralded economic slowdown has stabilized as a mild dip (and not a “collapse”), economists noted that the days of explosive growth are over. Given the war for talent over the past few years, even a mild dip may feel dire to workers.

Inflation has likely played a role as well; while the inflation rate has dropped significantly in 2023 compared to the past two years, workers who experienced economic pressure may still feel guarded. And some may still be hoping to catch their salary up to the current cost of living, despite inflation’s cooldown. 

Workers don’t plan to shy away from requesting raises in an effort to find this fulfillment, recent reports show. An October report from Robert Half found that two-thirds of workers plan to ask for a raise before the end of the year — and one-third said they’d seek a new job if they didn’t receive one.