Workers Seek Healthier Relationship With Jobs as Offices Reopen — How Salary and Fulfillment Correlate

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Cleaner office environments and social distancing measures aren’t the only changes occurring as people go back to work in the office in 2022. Recent research from Cake & Arrow showed that “a healthy work-life balance” is the most important thing to U.S. workers, followed by the company culture and people.

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What didn’t matter as much? Money, location and hours — to mention just a few. Most importantly, people said they want their work to be something they enjoy. They did not want their work to be their life.

Surprisingly, as much as younger generations are committed to social change and their favorite causes, they have reasonable expectations about what they can do within the framework of their job. While a majority of respondents said they want their work to make a difference, people placed lower importance on having a job that could “change the world.”

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More than half of respondents (52%) placed equal importance on finding a job with the option to work remotely, having health insurance, and having two weeks paid time off. Of course, having an income level that reduces financial stress is important, the survey showed, but it can’t replace having a job you enjoy. Thirty percent of respondents making less than $40,000 annually said they liked their jobs, but they aren’t making enough money.

Of those who reported high enjoyment in their jobs, only 4.8% said they are “very worried about money.” On the other hand, 57% of those who reported “high levels of financial comfort,” according to the survey, also reported high enjoyment of their jobs.

It’s hard to tell which comes first, though — higher salaries or greater enjoyment. It stands to reason that if you enjoy your job, you’re more likely to be successful in it. And, if you are successful in your job, you’re likely to enjoy it more. After all, people typically don’t like to do things they aren’t good at.

What about those who aren’t experiencing enjoyment or financial rewards at their job? A staggering number of respondents (74%) agreed with the statement, “The way we work is unsustainable and it’s hurting our mental health.”

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Employees also feel they have solutions to the issue of finding a better work-life balance. A majority of respondents said that remote-friendly and flexible hours, a four-day workweek, and recreational allowance or time-off would most entice them toward a new job.

Bottom line: A salary they can live on and the expected employee benefits are the bare minimum of what today’s workers want. As surveys like the one from Cake & Arrow begin to open employers’ eyes to worker demands, people may no longer have to settle for a job that will lead to long hours and eventual burnout.

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If you’re thinking of taking advantage of the tight labor market and the “Great Resignation” trend to find a new workplace, it’s okay to think beyond employee benefits and salary. Think about what you really need and expect from your employer, keep looking, and ask for what you want. As long as you have the credentials and talent to back up your demands, there’s no reason you can’t step into 2022 with a better job — and a better overall work-life balance.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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