Economy impacting way workers think about careers

Inflation is affecting career decisions, but better work-life balance could be key for firms that can’t compete on salary alone.
0921 Editorialcontent Top100

The current economic environment is bound to affect the workforce. With rising costs and comparatively stagnant wages, many job seekers are concerned about their prospects and what the future holds.

Conducted from July 13–31, 2022, FlexJobs’ Career Pulse 2022 Survey looked at job seeker and job market confidence of over 4,000 professionals. In an overwhelming response, 80% of survey participants reported that inflation is currently impacting their career decisions, such as whether to look for a new job with a higher salary or try to negotiate a higher salary with their current employer.

In fact, one-third said inflation is currently a “huge factor’’ for their career decisions, while 46% said it is either a factor or a small factor. Only 17% said inflation is not impacting their career decisions at the moment, while the remaining 3% weren’t sure. Likewise, 73% of respondents also said concerns about a recession are impacting their career decisions, although to a lesser extent than inflationary pressures.

“It’s understandable inflation pressure and recession fears are growing concerns for the majority of today’s workers,” says Toni Frana, career services manager at FlexJobs. “However, hiring still happens –– even during times of economic uncertainty. In a changing or uncertain job market, finding a new job or making the move into a different career field is still possible by staying prepared, focusing on what you can control, and being flexible and open to opportunities.”

Economic pressures have translated into other impacts on the job market as well, such as confidence in job searching and compensation negotiations.

When asked how confident they are in their ability to find a new job right now, the majority are only somewhat confident or not confident at all:

  • Extremely confident (12%);
  • Very confident (26%) ;
  • Somewhat confident (45%); and
  • Not confident at all (17%).

When asked how confident they are in their ability to negotiate salary and benefits, again the majority are only somewhat confident or not confident at all:

  • Extremely confident (10%);
  • Very confident (28%);
  • Somewhat confident (43%); and
  • Not confident at all (19%).

Other findings also indicate cooling sentiments from job seekers:

  • 44% think it will become harder to get a remote job in the coming year, while only 33% think it will become easier; 19% were not sure and the remaining 4% did not anticipate a change.
  • 25% either know someone or have been personally laid off since April 2022.
  • 18% either know someone or have had an offer personally rescinded since April 2022.
  • 43% said it has taken them more time to find a job in the past year than previous job searching experiences; 34% said it took them less time to successfully job search this year compared to previous years and 23% reported no change.
  • 37% are very concerned about job scams, compared 29% who reported the same thing in 2021.
  • 16% have regretted accepting a job offer since the pandemic began and another 16% know someone that has regretted accepting a job offer since the pandemic began. Top reasons include:
    • Toxic company culture (28%);
    • Bad boss (26%);
    • Felt disrespected/undervalued (23%);
    • Too stressful (23%);
    • Low or unfair pay (22%); and
    • Poor work-life balance (21%).

That last point could be important for companies that can’t afford to compete with others on higher salaries but can provide a better working environment in different ways for employees struggling with economic pressures.

According to the same Career Pulse 2022 Survey, 63% of professionals said if given the option, they would choose better work-life balance over better pay. Less than one-third (31%) would choose better pay over better work-life balance. The specific numbers below illustrate the heavy leaning toward better work-life balance over better pay. If they had to choose between the two, respondents say they prefer:

  • Definitely better work-life balance (44%);
  • Probably better work-life balance (19%);
  • Definitely better pay (15%);
  • Probably better pay (16%); or
  • Not sure (6%).

Eighty-seven percent also said that having a remote or hybrid job has improved or would improve their work-life balance. Given the above, it’s not surprising that only 3% want to work in the office full-time.

Sixty-five percent said their ideal work arrangement was 100% remote work, and 32% want a hybrid workplace. Fifty-seven percent went so far as to say that if they were not allowed to keep working remotely in their current position, they would look for a new job.

“From time and financial savings to increased productivity, remote work provides many valuable benefits for employees –– but work-life balance is king,” says Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “Healthy work-life balance can be instrumental to the success and longevity of an organization.”

Other reported benefits of remote and hybrid work:

  • Cost savings: 45% estimate they save at least $5,000 a year by working remotely, with one in five estimating a cost savings of over $10,000 per year by working remotely (from not eating out, less gasoline, less dry cleaning, etc.). And 29% estimate they save at least $2,600 a year.
  • Happiness: 84% said having a remote or hybrid job makes or would make them a happier person in general.
  • Mental health: For those who have mental health issues, 77% think having a remote or hybrid job has or would help them manage their mental health issues.

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