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Flexibility, Work-Life Balance Join Pay as Top Concerns When Starting a Job

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Employers are trying to attract and keep talent amid a continued U.S. labor shortage, in which finding good workers has been hard to come by for many companies and organizations. But with the coronavirus pandemic shifting work arrangements for many Americans, employees are choosing roles based on more than just pay.

A survey from isolved, a Charlotte, N.C.-based human capital management software company, finds salary continues to be the top reason for starting a new job, but several factors unrelated to compensation also rank high. In fact, more than half of respondents cite location flexibility (58%), interest in the role (57%) and work-life balance (52%).

Workers feel professional development isn’t fully supported

With Americans estimated to spend 90,000 hours, on average, working over their lifetime, it makes sense that employees would like workplaces to provide professional development support. However, 1 in 5 isolved survey participants (21%) express their employer doesn’t provide this.

More than half of respondents (55%) believe the top way to provide professional development is through more educational opportunities, followed by more funding for continued education (54%), career pathing (45%), mentorship opportunities (34%), and both in-person (28%) and virtual (27%) group trainings.

Majority cite workplace skills gaps — here are the top reasons

Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) respondents say there are workplace skills gaps, or discrepancies between employees’ skills and those that employers expect them to have. The top reasons for these mismatches are:

  • Lack of new technology training (21%)
  • Lack of tenured employees sharing knowledge (18%)
  • Open roles remaining vacant (15%)

This skills gap might be chalked up partly to the pandemic, as some employers temporarily stopped hiring and furloughed workers. (Still, another recent survey from Robert Half, a global consulting firm, found that just over half of senior managers expect to add permanent positions in the second half of 2021. In addition, nearly half plan to bring back furloughed workers or fill vacated spots.)

As for the types of skills that employees would like to develop, interpersonal skills rank highest. Leadership skills top the list, with 50% of respondents showing interest. Other notable skills include:

  • Communication (44%)
  • Teamwork (43%)
  • Computer (36%)
  • Automation and technology (33%)
  • Learning and adaptability (32%)

Workers tempted to quit before even starting new jobs

The isolved survey finds that some workers have wanted to jump ship because of the onboarding experience. More than half (51%) of respondents share that they were tempted to quit a job because of a negative onboarding experience. About 4 in 10 (39%) say the onboarding experience was extremely important, nearly half (46%) say it was important and 16% say it wasn’t important.

While a near-majority of respondents (48%) feel that onboarding should be completed within three weeks of starting a job, 29% think that the process should take four to seven weeks. Other respondents have different timelines:

  • Eight to 12 weeks (16%)
  • Three to five months (3%)
  • Six months or longer (4%)

As the isolved survey notes, pay still remains the top reason why someone starts a new job — as such, businesses not able to meet this demand for higher wages could consider payroll loans to cover wages. These payroll loans generally come in various forms, from short-term loans to merchant cash advances.

Methodology: Isolved surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. full-time employees, from entry-level workers to C-suiters, in August 2021.


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