What employees want – myths exposed in new survey

by Human Capital02 Oct 2012

Australian job hunters and employees are among the most demanding in the world – but are some of the common myths about jobseekers true or false?

Office workers are requesting not only higher salaries but also a variety of non-financial benefits from their employers, such as flexible working hours and locations, extended leave of absence, free food and massages – that’s according to a new survey called the 2012 HR Beat, conducted by Dimension Research and commissioned by SucessFactors.

The survey of hundreds of HR professionals and hiring managers across Australia uncovered the trends and demands of both job candidates and employees, while highlighting differences between genders and age groups.

Top findings include:


  • Generation X (ages 33-50) job candidates request higher money and flexible working hours versus any other age group.
  • A standard benefits package is no longer cutting it: employees request more job flexibility, vacation time and “upgraded” perks such as free food and massages.
  • The Millennial generation (those younger than 33 years old) is looking to fine-tune their skillset. Training and mentoring are the top resources that they seek.
  • Despite speculation that the gender gap is shrinking, female employees are still asking for more job flexibility, while men are asking for more monetary benefits.


Flexible work hours are the top priority for Australian job applicants

The 2012 HR Beat revealed that when negotiating a job offer, 86% of Australian candidates asked for benefits beyond what they were originally offered, with the most frequently requested benefit being flexible work hours, followed by higher pay and then additional training opportunities. The study also revealed Australian job candidates request flexible work hours more often than their global counterparts.

Mark Souter, head of human resources for Asia Pacific and Japan, SuccessFactors said, “Professionals in Australia are living in a candidate’s market. Individuals know what they are worth and they are not afraid to ask for what makes them happy and successful.”

“This research provides us with an interesting lens into what Australian business leaders should consider when looking at their talent attraction strategy. Securing the best staff is no longer a one way process of putting a job offer on the table; employers need to be ready to discuss and negotiate conditions with the candidates they want in their business.”
The survey also looked at the specific requests by age group. Notably, HR professionals revealed that Millennials and Generation X job candidates are both demanding before joining a company:


  • Millennial candidates request more vacation and training than those in other age groups.
  • Generation X candidates are most likely to ask for higher job titles, flexible working hours and locations.
  • Both generations ask for higher pay and hiring bonuses more than the Baby Boomer generation (those over 50 years old).


Australian employees want more perks

The 2012 HR Beat research revealed that employee benefits are changing from the customary staples like pay raises and promotions, with almost half of HR professionals experiencing requests for less traditional job perks. The most popular perks include free meals/drinks (31%), requests for tablets or smart phones for personal use (17%), time off for volunteer work (16%) and free massages (9%).

Souter added that monetary compensation alone is no longer sufficient as Australian employees want, and expect, more from their employers. “These non-traditional perks are things which can be implemented at relatively little cost, yet can have a significantly positive impact on the business. We’re already seeing a number of organisations make these investments across various industries,” he said.

Generational differences

Despite the reputation of Millennials as the “me, me, me” generation, the research revealed that Generation X is actually the most demanding group when it comes to seeking additional job perks as current employees. Thirty-eight per cent of HR professionals found that Generation X employees are most likely to ask for a higher job title and 50% are also more probable to ask for an unscheduled bonus.

Once Millennial workers have secured a job, the survey found they tend to look more to professional growth and are more likely to ask for a relocation, additional training, an unscheduled raise and help finding a mentor than their Generation X peers or the Baby Boomer generation.

“Millennials often get a bad rap when it comes to their demands at work, but our research shows that the perks that are important to them are about building their career and skillset,” Souter added. “In the long run, their requests will benefit the business as well as themselves. They’re more responsible than we’ve been giving them credit for. And with Australia’s workforce continuing to age, businesses must ensure that they cater to different generations in the workforce.”

Is the gender gap real?

While people speculate that the gender gap is shrinking, the HR Beat revealed that HR professionals still see differing requests from men and women. According to HR professionals in the survey, women are more likely to ask for:


  • Flexible work locations (50%)
  • Flexible work hours (48%)
  • Reduced work hours (48%)


And men are more likely to ask for:


  • A promotion (35%)
  • An unscheduled bonus (27%)
  • An off-cycle raise (25%)



“Based on these survey results, my assumption is that many women are still choosing to be the primary caregivers and are asking for benefits that support their needs,” said Souter. “But regardless of gender, people with families are looking to spend more time at home and are requesting benefits, such as flexible work hours. Although the survey supports this, every employee prioritises different things and companies need to be flexible with their benefit offerings.”


Top News

Employers caught between a rock and a hard place
Know your employees and reap the dividends
Loyalty out as job hopping becomes the new norm


Most Read

Caltex fuels parental return-to-work debate
Measuring learning and development ROI – An accountant's perspective



Most Read