Recruitment survey

Higher pay beats flexible working among job seekers

Scottish banknotes
Cash is king: workers are looking for bigger pay packets

A higher salary has knocked flexible working into second place for job seekers now facing a sharp rise in the cost of living.

New research from recruitment firm Michael Page shows that even as workers demand more flexibility, shorter hours and less commuting, a higher salary re-emerged as the number one demand amid rising inflation.

A survey of 2,000 UK office workers reveals that four in ten (40%) have cited salary as the primary driver for searching for a new role.

This compares to three in ten (30%) who put flexibility top – suggesting that the tables have turned as a result of the current economic climate.

Added to that, among those who said they ‘are not currently looking for a new role’, being offered a significant pay rise in another role would be the top factor (49%) in persuading them to consider moving.

Despite its overall importance, promises of increased remuneration elsewhere isn’t the only thing giving workers itchy feet.

Over a quarter (26%) of employees say that they feel there is a lack of recognition for their contribution in their current role – a complaint likely to be particularly heightened among those who stayed loyal during the pandemic.

Some (22%) feel that their current company doesn’t provide enough job security, and a quarter (27%) felt that there was not enough career progression available to them. The research also revealed that three in ten (31%) candidates are put off applying for roles because they don’t think they have the right skillset.

More than a quarter (28%) are currently on the hunt for a new job, rising to 43% among those aged 18-34. This points to hopeful times ahead for businesses desperately seeking talent, with recent ONS figures showing that open job vacancies hit a record 1.3m between November and January.


Doug Rode, managing director, UK&I at Michael Page, commented: “These findings reflect the fast-moving times we are living in.

“The pandemic got people thinking about their newfound workplace expectations and, a year ago, flexibility might have overtaken salary in the checklist of job priorities.

“However, with inflation rising and the cost-of-living crisis putting pressure on workers across the country, it’s clear that the tables have turned once again.

“Businesses searching for top talent should be aware that these crucial aspects are the things that could nudge potential candidates in their direction.

“It’s important to know, though, that just offering one element may not cut it – in this climate, job seekers will be searching for a proposition that covers all of their top drivers.”

Few jobs advertise flexibility

Nearly two years on from the first pandemic lockdown and dramatic changes to working patterns, fewer than three in 10 jobs in Scotland are advertised as flexible, according to new research by Timewise.

The social business and flexible working firm analysed more than 340,000 job adverts and found just 27% mentioned flexible working options, such as working from home, part-time hours or other flexible hours. 

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Yet 7 in 10 (67%) Scottish employees already work flexibly, while 70% say they want more flexibility than they have now and many are willing to change jobs to find the flexibility they need.

The portion of jobs advertised with flexible working options in Scotland is up 2 percentage points on the year before when 25% of jobs were advertised as flexible. 

Pre-pandemic, 19% of jobs were advertised as flexible. Timewise collected its first data in 2017, when 16% of Scottish jobs were advertised as flexible.

Emma Stewart, co-founder of Timewise, said: “It’s time employers accept the world of work has changed. Many industries are struggling with staff shortages, candidate expectations about flex are at an all-time high and that’s before we get to mounting pressure from the Scottish and UK governments to make flexible working available from ‘day one’.

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