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Post-Pandemic Workers are Seeking Purpose, Not Perks

New survey shows that personal and professional priorities have shifted for American employees.

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New research commissioned by employer brand consultancy Blu Ivy Group (conducted among members of the online Angus Reid Forum USA, an online and public opinion community in which members answer questions and complete surveys on topics that matter most to Americans) shows that after more than two years of COVID, personal and professional priorities may have shifted for American employees.

1)  An employee’s individual purpose trumps popcorn.

Asked what they value most about a company’s work culture, 31 percent of employed Americans ranked “purpose—feeling like the work I do is making a difference” among their top three responses. Purpose trumped vacation time (30 percent), management that’s responsive to the needs of workers (28 percent), opportunities for professional advancement and growth (22 percent), and the ability to work remotely (19 percent) as top valued company work culture points.

  • In contrast, only 8 percent of respondents chose in-office perks (e.g. free snacks, beer, daycare, fitness center, etc). 
  • Purpose was only topped by benefits (38 percent) and flexible work hours (33 percent).
  • Purpose (21 percent) was less of a priority for workers who worked from home or remotely pre-pandemic.

“As a cornerstone of any employer brand strategy, companies need to take a close look at what their talent will receive in addition to perks and benefits. It’s essential for employers in the post-pandemic workplace to connect the work of talent to both purpose and impact,” says Stacy Parker, managing director and co-founder of the Blu Ivy Group.

2) The (Culture) Con is on.

About a third (35 percent) of employed Americans believe their workplace/employer is “Culture Conning,” defined as a practice by which companies market themselves as having inclusive, employee-centric workplace cultures to recruit employees, but fail to deliver on that promise.

  • Younger respondents (18 to 34) are significantly more likely to believe this (41 percent) than those aged 35 to 54 (34 percent) and especially those 55-plus (27 percent)
  • One-in-five (22 percent) employed Americans, including three-in-10 (31 percent) under the age of 35, have left a position or a company due to “Culture Conning.”

“Establishing a well-built and managed employer brand ensures that companies aren’t ‘culture conning’ or falsely advertising a culture that doesn’t exist,” says Parker. “Committed brands need to truly and thoughtfully embed a strong employee promise into the fundamental culture and experience of the company.”

3) Workplace cultures are cracking (and managers may be cracking them).

Three-quarters (74 percent) of employed Americans could cite at least one aspect of their company culture that is broken. The top answers cited were: leadership/management (28 percent), lack of trust between staff and management (23 percent), lack of work/life balance (23 percent), and unsustainable workload (21 percent).

“Workplaces don’t have to crack, they can bend, adapt and change with genuine insights,” says Parker. “An employee value proposition is the solution to provide leaders and managers a clear understanding of what talent want and need most. Companies need to learn how they can deliver more consistent experiences aligned to an employee value proposition promise.”

4) Over a quarter of Americans may covet competitor’s work cultures.

Three-in-10 (29 percent) employed Americans, including two-in-five (39 percent) under the age of 35, are envious of a competing company’s work culture, with better benefits (50 percent) by far the most common reason given.

5) Americans stand behind their social causes

A total of 78 percent of employed Americans say it’s important that their company stands behind social causes that align with their values. It’s essential to 15 percent, very important to 30 percent, and somewhat important to 33 percent.

6) 82 percent of Americans could be coaxed to join the competition 

Besides a higher salary, employed Americans could be lured away from their current employer with:

  • More vacation time, 42 percent
  • Ability to work remotely, 36 percent
  • Better training and personal development, 33 percent
  • Ability to work closer to home, 25 percent

These are the findings of a study/survey conducted by Blue Ivy Group from March 25 to 29, 2022, among a nationally representative sample of 1,013 full-time and part-time employed Americans who are members of the online Angus Reid Forum USA, balanced and weighted on age, gender, and region.

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.