Employee Expectations report: Knowledge workers want flexibility, support, and the ability to work from anywhere

How employee expectations have changed after the pandemic.

Employee expectations report cover on a patterned background

As war wages in Ukraine, the pandemic continues to unfold, and the impact of climate looms over us, it’s no wonder burnout is on the rise. For many of us, these last few years have been some of the most challenging and disorienting in our lives. Under the strain of these difficult times, employees expect human-centric workplaces now, more than ever. In fact, we could be witnessing the beginnings of a workplace revolution. 

“This report reveals expectations from knowledge workers today and uncovers what they truly want from their places of work, their jobs, and their managers. Armed with this information, People Ops professionals will be equipped to elevate their employee experience at a time where competition for talent is especially high. The findings in this report have major implications for growing businesses looking to attract and retain the best and brightest employees, now and in the future” – Rhys Black, Head of Workplace Design 

Knowledge workers are realizing that work can and should be different. They reject the drudgery of the daily commute. Many prioritize time with friends and family over climbing the career ladder. They also say that supportive management is more important than perks, share options, or even career development. 

It’s no longer a question of whether the pandemic changed our attitudes towards work. Instead, the question is, “How much did it change them?” According to the findings in our latest report on employee expectations—the answer is clear. Employee expectations have transformed.

What makes for the ideal job?

Historically, the ideal job would be rewarded with a good salary and a respectable job title. Working with friendly colleagues or a kind manager was a bonus, and the flexibility to work from home was rarely an option. 

But following the pandemic, a seismic shift in priorities has reimagined what the ideal job looks like. Today, while salary and benefits remain important, supportive management is at the forefront of what employees hope for from their job. From our research, 41% of knowledge workers told us that remote or distributed working was one of the top things they look for in a job. 

“I never would have considered working from home even one day before the pandemic but now I want the freedom to work wherever I choose, whether that be office, home or even abroad.”  – Anonymous respondent 

By contrast, job titles are increasingly meaningless. In fact, 38% said job title was the least important factor when considering their ideal job. When it comes to the job search, flexibility of location and compassionate bosses come out on top. Status, job title, and share options are far less important. 

Picturing the ideal company

In a similar vein, a strong work-life balance proved critical when it came to employees describing their ideal company. A huge 61% of our survey respondents told us that work-life balance was their most important company factor—eclipsing all other factors by a wide margin. 

While company culture and remote/distributed working policy came second and third, respectively, these choices spoke to a broader pattern in our data. Employees value flexibility and support over perks or even career development. 

COVID has taught me that the culture of the company matters a lot. I value a company that listens to its employees and does what is right for them.”  – Anonymous respondent 

In line with our findings about the ideal job, it’s clear that the ideal company in 2022 takes care of its employees first and foremost. Factors such as environmental footprint and social impact, while important, were considered secondar

The pandemic effect

The last two years may have separated us, but they have unified knowledge workers in their desire for change. Employees have had a taste for remote and distributed working, and they’re not going back.

From the respondents we surveyed, 86% told us that remote/distributed working had become more important since the pandemic, and 68% indicated that there was a greater need for supportive managers. Employees today call for a cultural shift in the way we perceive the workplace. They are no longer prepared to bend their lives around work; Instead, work should flex to our needs and responsibilities. 

The world of work has seen a paradigm shift. Through a forced period of collective change, employees now have new expectations towards their jobs and organizations. The perks and rewards of the past will no longer cut it. 

To satisfy the demands of knowledge workers today, employers need to make empathy their strength. To attract the best and brightest, they must foster flexible environments where every employee feels safe, valued, and understood. 

Want to read more about how employee expectations have changed after the pandemic? Download the full report here.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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