Ipsos Quick Take on the Workforce

We have five insights that business leaders need to know to attract, and retain their best talent.

The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Justin Gest Associate Professor, George Mason University
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jennifer Berg Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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Download our latest paper featuring Ipsos research that distils factors shaping today’s workplace landscape into five key insights that managers and executives should consider as their return-to-office strategies evolve:

  1. The pandemic catalyzed major changes to work
  2. Good pay and benefits are top priorities
  3. Employee needs change by age and life stage
  4. Unwelcome changes to workplace location will drive many workers to quit
  5. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but organizations that consider needs of employees along with needs of the business will be set up for success

From worker shortages to the Great Resignation to a volatile labor market, COVID has warped the world of work in many expected and unexpected ways.

To understand these changes, Ipsos explored this evolution and sought to understand how the pandemic affected Americans’ work experience, what they value when job hunting, and how life stage impacts workers’ values and professional priorities.

1. The pandemic catalyzed major changes at work

While most Americans have moved on from the pandemic, the disruption COVID-19 caused can’t be underestimated or put in the rearview mirror. Workers were forced out of their routine, and many began to rethink what they wanted from their jobs.

For example, about half of all American workers have searched for or started a new job in the past two years. Additionally, even more workers saw disruptions to their day-to-day workload as a result of COVID, either through a temporary or permanent loss of income or having their workload increase. Perhaps as a result, many say they are re-evaluating their options.

Covid-19 caused disruption for the workforce

2. Good pay and benefits are top priorities

Even with the many disruptions to the workforce over the past two years and counting, workers top priorities when looking for a new job are standard: good pay, stable paycheck, and benefits.

Following those top-tier priorities when looking for a new job, workers then begin to value other attributes like flexible work schedules or a 4-day work week—perks that have become more widespread since the pandemic. Working a standard 9-to-5 and being in an office every day fall to the bottom of workers’ preferences. 

Workers want good pay, benefits, and choice

3. Employee needs change by age and life stage

What people are looking for in a job change based on their life stage. Younger workers value a stable paycheck and above-average pay more than older workers. Older workers also value a stable paycheck and good pay, but benefits rank higher for these cohorts.

While good, stable pay universally ranks high, being in the office every day and working “standard” 9-to-5 hours are not priorities for all workers, regardless of age. This is particularly true for younger workers who are more likely to be at a point in their life where they may have young children at home or other care responsibilities. As other Ipsos research has shown, life stage is a notable driver of how much workers value things like flexibility or company culture in their workplace.

Employees need change based on age

4. Unwelcome changes to workplace location will drive many workers to quit

It’s important for executives to understand that a notable share of workers will consider quitting their job if forced to change their work location. More than one in three workers would consider quitting if forced to change their work location.

Even with these topline values, some groups pose a greater flight risk. Workers who have kids under 18 at home, workers under 34, higher income workers, and those with a college degree are all more likely to quit if forced to change their work situation. Differing values and at-home responsibilities all add up to influence how likely someone is to quit if they were forced to change their work situation.

Life stage and education makes women more likely to quit if forced to change workstation

5. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy

Finally, work location matters. As discussed, a significant portion of workers would quit if forced to change their work location.

That may be because many workers appreciate the benefits that flexible or remote work offer. Most workers recognize the savings that can come from working from home and want to maintain a work-life balance. But differences still exist among people with different roles, responsibilities and backgrounds.

No one size fits all for managing

Bringing it all together

As managers and executives consider return-to-office plans, it will be essential to understand their workers’ values and weigh them against organizational goals to minimize disruptions and do right by employees. The same plans won’t work for everyone, but organizations that consider needs of employees along with needs of the business will be set up for success.

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The author(s)

  • Clifford Young President, US, Public Affairs
  • Justin Gest Associate Professor, George Mason University
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Jennifer Berg Director, US, Public Affairs
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

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