- It looks like people want to be paid more and have more flexibility in where they work.
- Insider ran a survey with SurveyMonkey to learn what would motivate Americans in their job search.
- 37% of respondents without a job but are looking for work said they want remote flexibility.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
The greatest puzzle in the labor market right now is what, exactly, people want out of work. It's a question that seems to be on the minds of millions, as the number of workers quitting their jobs stayed at a record-breaking high for the fourth month in a row. It's yet another month of the Great Resignation, where workers seek out different positions, or just leave behind some altogether.
Those quits come as anecdotal stories of labor shortages abound, and wages seem to be pushed upwards as employers try to lure in workers. The dismal number of jobs added in August showed that fears over Delta's spread is likely one factor in holding workers back.
To understand why unemployed Americans and job seekers aren't looking for work right now as well as the challenges with searching for a job amid the pandemic, Insider ran a survey with SurveyMonkey of 1,105 US adults from August 16 to August 17. Almost 640 respondents with different employment statuses – employed and looking for work, unemployed and looking for a job, and unemployed and not looking for work – were asked questions about their job search or what would incentivize them to look for work.
Turns out, people want more money – and more flexibility.
The following chart shows the share of the respondents who answered the question, "Which of the following would attract you most in a job offer or incentivize expanding your job search?"
Overall, 37% of respondents said higher wages would attract them to a job offer or incentivize them to expand their job search. Around 33% answered remote flexibility to this question.
Remote flexibility is especially important for female respondents, while higher wages are important for male respondents
A futher breakdown of the results show the differences by gender:
Higher wages and remote flexibility were the main incentives for both male and female respondents.
Those who don't have a job but are looking want remote flexibility
Unemployed Americans want higher wages and flexible options in how they work. For instance, around 30% of those without a job and who aren't looking for one reported remote flexibility or higher wages would attract them to a job offer or motivate them to expand their search.
And maybe some already-employed Americans have become used to their working from home lifestyle. About 47% of respondents with a job but who are searching for a new one said higher wages would attract them to an offer or motivate them to expand their search, followed by 32% who said remote flexibility.
The Delta variant has likely only exacerbated the desire for flexibility
Coronavirus and the Delta variant have certainly pushed companies into walking back plans to return to the office. Microsoft and LinkedIn's CEOs are no longer setting firm return to office dates, Insider's Francis Agustin reported, and are instead looking toward more flexibility.
At Amazon, which announced a plan to return to office pre-Delta, some workers told Insider's Ashley Stewart and Eugene Kim that they were frustrated by the move and the lack of flexibility.
Indeed, flexibility may be the name of the game as the world enters year two of an economy defined by the pandemic. In August, Insider spoke to Suzy Leanos, one of the millions of workers who quit their jobs during the pandemic. When she began applying to roles again over the summer, she learned that one would require a commute over an hour. She let that company know she wasn't interested.
"Especially through the COVID situation, the lockdown we went through, we know employers can be flexible," Leanos said.
It's increasingly clear that Americans want flexibility in where they work – just ask the 32.5% of our survey respondents. The bigger question is if employers will listen.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected 1,105 respondents August 16-17, 2021 with a 3 percentage point margin of error.