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Working for Love or Money? Employees Say Love Matters More

July 13, 2011 — When they're on the job hunt, would-be employees prioritize finding a caring company, fulfilling work and better benefits over dollars and cents, according to a survey by in collaboration with employee benefits provider Unum.

In the survey of 468 job-seekers, the top-rated item on would-be employees' wish lists was a company "that truly cares about the well-being of its employees."

Eight-seven percent of those surveyed rated that quality very important in their job hunt — and the result was nearly identical for both the employed and unemployed respondents.

Other priorities for people seeking employment were:

  • A challenging and fulfilling position, which 84% of respondents identified as very important.
  • Job security, rated very important by 82%.
  • An attractive benefits package, which 74% of those surveyed rated very important.

Coming in lower in the rankings were questions of dollars and cents: A high base salary was very important to 66%, and bonuses were very important to a little more than half of those surveyed.

The survey, which also polled human resources leaders, showed a strong connection between caring for the well-being of employees and financial protection beyond the paycheck:

  • 86% of HR leaders indicated that making sure employees and their families are taken care of should something happen to them is an important reason for providing financial protection benefits.
  • 82% of workers agreed that being offered financial protection benefits shows that a company cares about the well-being of its employees.

The research is consistent with findings of a recent survey of nearly 400 human resources decision-makers commissioned by Unum in partnership with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services.

That study found that the role of corporate culture is perceived as critical to driving engagement, recruitment and retention of a quality workforce:

  • An attractive benefits package and an ethical, transparent culture were more likely to be viewed as very important in attracting and retaining staff than were a high starting salary and job security.
  • Being a company that cares about the well-being of its staff was twice as likely to be viewed as very important in attracting and retaining staff as providing a high base salary.

Contents © 2011 WorldatWork. No part of this article may be reproduced, excerpted or redistributed in any form without express written permission from WorldatWork.

Reader Comments
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Wed July 20, 2011 5:00 AMReport Abuse
Ebenezer Torkornoo
Advisor Rewards & Performance
Member Since: 11/22/1994
Comments: 1

Anne, you've said it. A kind of ‘recency effect’ drives our responses / reactions, especially after recent difficult events / times. For example, after a period of downsizing, many get concerned about job security. After 911, we invested heavily in home comforts such as home entertainment systems (and reduced attendance at movie theatres an dpublic events). After a bad breakup we tend to seek new relationships with persons who do not have the (negative) characteristics that dominate our previous partners. We one botches up just before performance review, bosses tend to remember the most recent botchup, rather than all the great work done to date. It would be wonderful if employers matched the level of need expressed by employees. On this I am not too optimistic about dramatic change, because it takes time to change organization culture. I do hope that top level decision makers are listening, and attending to the survey findings, because there is empirical evidence to suggest that the existence of good work environment is a leading factor for high performance organizations.

Tue July 19, 2011 3:46 PMReport Abuse
Anne Palmer
WorkLife Wellness Manager
Member Since: 5/1/1996
Comments: 1

This information also seems to support a related theme that has been reported in other surveys that a good relationship with the supervisor is very important in retaining employees.  In addition to good benefits, a good supervisor can model "company caring" to his or her employees in a very real and everyday way.  When you've experienced a negative relationship, finding a good and supportive person to report to becomes very important the next time around.

Tue July 19, 2011 3:13 PMReport Abuse
Andrea Ozias (Staff)
Comments: 462

Hi All,

Thanks for posting the link to the press release, Michael -- that's definitely one quick and easy way to do it. Another option is to send the link to the Newsline item to whomever you like. Newsline is open to both members and nonmembers, so login is not required.

-- Andrea Ozias, Manager, News & Communications,

Tue July 19, 2011 10:41 AMReport Abuse
Michael Murphy
Senior Consultant
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Comments: 1

Patricia, another option is to go directly to the Unum web site and share the press release, which contains the same information. No copyright issues there.

Tue July 19, 2011 10:23 AMReport Abuse
Connie Lange
Internal Policy Manager - HR
Member Since: 10/24/1985
Comments: 1

As a followup to Patricia's comment, what is WorldatWork's position for sharing within an organizaiton?  I would like to share this article with an internal HR manager who has responsibility for organizational culture issues.

Tue July 19, 2011 9:57 AMReport Abuse
Patricia Robison
Sr Director
Member Since: 1/1/1999
Comments: 1

Interesting information but I don't feel comfortable sharing it with my HR team due to the discalimer:  "No part of this article may be reproduced, excerpted or redistributed in any form without express written permission from WorldatWork."