Diverse business people wearing face masks brainstorming in office. protection business office workplace during covid 19 coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the workforce (67%) is open to new job opportunities, according to the results of Ceridian’s 2021 Pulse of Talent survey. Not all of these employees are unhappy with their current jobs — but they’re looking for new challenges, growth opportunities, and salary increases. 

The survey, conducted in partnership with Nielsen, asked participants across five countries about their current occupations, values and priorities, and career plans. This feedback can help employers find and retain quality talent in the year ahead.  

Safety and support

The COVID-19 crisis left millions of Americans unemployed or at risk of losing their jobs. So it’s no surprise that job security was a top priority for survey respondents. When considering job opportunities, 66% of employees said job security is more important than before the pandemic. 

But it seems most employers are doing everything they can to help. The majority of workers (75%) said they were pleased with their company’s overall response to the pandemic. They agreed that their employers took the necessary steps to promote workplace safety (75%), provide prompt and clear communications (72%), and protect their employment (72%). Most of the surveyed employees (74%) also had supportive managers. 

While in crisis management mode, however, a few aspects of the employee experience were left behind. Only 58% of employees felt connected to their company culture, and a little more than half (55%) felt more productive. 

A mission for future success

The majority of employees (85%) who were satisfied with their company’s pandemic response also had a positive outlook regarding their company’s health and success. In contrast, only 34% of those who were unhappy with how their employers handled the crisis had positive feelings about the future. 

Leadership played a crucial role in how confident employees were in their organization’s sustainability. Most respondents (70%) noted that their company had clear values, yet only 55% said their senior leaders put those values into practice. The number one reason workers doubted their company’s longevity was a lack of faith in the leadership team’s capabilities — these employees were also considering changing jobs.

The survey results suggest that a purpose-driven company whose leaders make decisions that align with that purpose is more likely to have confident employees, a healthy workplace culture, and the ability to thrive under challenging circumstances.

Balance, benefits, and remote work

Compared to 2018, employees in 2020 were less satisfied with their company’s:

  • vacation policies (66% in 2020 vs. 77% in 2018)
  • benefits (56% vs. 72%)
  • work-life balance (61% vs. 70%)
  • perks (39% vs. 50%)

And although remote work rose during the pandemic, work-from-home policies seem to be less important to employees than other benefits. Perhaps that’s because 62% of the survey participants reported working on-site during the pandemic. Nearly 60% of employees said they’d accept a job opportunity without the potential for remote work, 31% of which work in an industry where remote work isn’t possible.

Even though some workers can’t or prefer not to work from home, Ceridian’s report suggests that “flexibility should be an inclusive value proposition for all employees, regardless of role.” Modern solutions like human capital management (HCM) software and flexible payroll practices can improve work-life balance for both on-site and remote workers.

Ready for new challenges, opportunities

When asked how they feel about staying at their current job, 35% of surveyed employees — 27% of whom were happy at their current job — said they’re considering a move. The top three reasons they cited for wanting to leave include:

  • Wanting to take on new challenges (30%)
  • Feeling like they need to leave to further their career (28%) 
  • Believing their current company won’t be able to meet their salary expectations (26%)

Today’s employees value growth opportunities above all — a third of respondents said they’d even be willing to make a lateral move or take a pay cut if it meant getting a chance to grow in their career. Most of the workforce (77%) believes it’s important for their employers to offer learning opportunities, yet 40% either aren’t getting those opportunities or don’t know if they exist.

Overall, the survey revealed a few key improvement areas for employers — including focusing on the broader employee experience; strengthening the company culture, purpose, and leadership; and boosting benefits and growth opportunities.

For more survey results, download the full report