Two thirds would take a pay cut for better work-life balance, survey finds

Data reveals majority of employees are seeking out hybrid and remote working as employers are encouraged to offer ‘as much flexibility and choice as possible’

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Almost two thirds (56 per cent) of employees are willing to accept a lower-paid job in exchange for a better work-life balance, a study has found.

The 2023 Salary & Recruiting Trends report by Hays, which looked at data from more than 5,000 employers and 8,000-plus professionals, found that a third (33 per cent) of workers consider work-life balance to be the most crucial consideration when looking for a job.

Additionally, the report revealed that two fifths (41 per cent) of employees believe having varied working hours would make maintaining a healthy work-life balance easier. 

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Gethin Nadin, psychologist and chief innovation officer at Benefex, said the pandemic gave many workers a chance to reflect on how they spent their time and that managing their lives became much easier when people had control over where and when they worked. “This research and others like it continue to suggest to employers that those willing to be more flexible with their people will become the more desirable employers,” he said.

“One of the most-evidenced ways to improve employee wellbeing is to give them more autonomy, flexibility and work-life balance. Seeing this now rank so highly on a lot of employees' wishlists is encouraging.”

The majority (83 per cent) of employees said their work-life balance had either improved or remained the same during the preceding 12 months. But half (50 per cent) were seeking jobs with a higher level of hybrid working, while a quarter (24 per cent) wanted fully remote positions. 

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Debra Clark, head of specialist consulting at Towergate Health & Protection, said the results were not surprising and that flexible working was increasingly desirable for employees and candidates. “One way a business can attract and retain the right talent for their business is by offering benefits and services that support the wellbeing of their people, with as much flexibility and choice as possible. It is important that employers don’t assume what employees will value – they should ask and include them,” she added.

The data also highlighted that two thirds (62 per cent) of employees would be tempted to change jobs if they had a say in how often they worked in the office.

Louise Aston, wellbeing director at Business in the Community, said flexible working was now a ‘need’ if employers wanted to retain talent. “With almost half of the UK workforce aiming to balance work and caring responsibilities, the need for a work-life balance is critical,” she said.