Seek study reveals four elements of what workers want from their job

The wants of older and younger workers differ greatly, a Seek survey has found.

The wants of older and younger workers differ greatly, a Seek survey has found. Photo: Getty


Employers looking to draw quality talent have been given a little leg up following the release of Seek’s latest Laws of Attraction survey.

The annual survey of more than 14,700 respondents looking to change jobs in the next two years reveals work-life balance remains the top priority for job hunters (15.4 per cent importance score), followed closely by salary compensation (13.9 per cent).

Working environment (11.5), management and management quality (10.1) and career and development (9.4) rounded out the top five overall drivers of workplace attraction.

Boomers and Gen Zs collide in the job market

Seek market research manager Caroline North says the latest study (conducted between January 2023 and February 2024) is unique in that it captures insight from across four generations.

“We’re seeing a generational shift in job seekers in this data,” North said.

“We’re witnessing the entrance of Gen Z into the job-seeking market, and we’re beginning to see Baby Boomers tailing out – they’re still in the workforce, but in terms of actually looking for jobs in the next two years, we’re seeing decreasing numbers.”

Understanding the discrete needs of each cohort helps facilitate a successful hire, North said.

“For example, there are things about Gen Z that are unique,” she said.

“Just the fact they are entering the workforce means we see things like career development being more important to them than their Baby Boomer counterparts.”

North said the study provides employers with key information about how to position themselves to be more attractive to prospective hires.

“It helps them think about their value propositions and employer branding, and how the information can influence decision making and workforce structure.”

North said knowing what is important to potential candidates helps employers tailor their recruitment efforts.

“Before sending out an advertisement to job seekers, [they can ask themselves]; ‘Have I given examples of the top three drivers relevant to my industry; or level of seniority I’m trying to attract; does the language within my job ad really speak to the audience I’m trying to connect with?’”

What the survey reveals about job seekers

Work-life balance is key

“The pandemic fundamentally shifted our perception of what we need for survival and work-life balance,” North said.

“While work-life balance declined slightly in terms of importance, it is still ranked as the highest category.”

But that’s not to say money isn’t an important driver for workers.

“We know salary is a key reason why people leave an organisation and is a key influence over whether or not a job seeker is going to apply for a role.”

North said work-life balance and salary compensation are tightly linked and cost-of-living pressures can sometimes shift the needle in terms of priorities.

Flexibility can be flexible

Flexibility means different things to different cohorts, and it changes depending on industry.

“Remote working is an office industry story – and it’s important to Gen Y and Gen Z who are juggling caring responsibilities,” North said.

“Gen Z are just entering the workforce and they’re more likely to be working in retail or hospitality, and concerned about hourly rate and flexibility that gives them greater control over their time, such as additional leave, flexible working hours and time in lieu as compensation for overtime.”

A full package deal

Reeling in quality talent isn’t just about the annual salary, with workers leaning towards offers that include add-ons such as additional superannuation, health and income insurance.

The latest survey found 21 per cent of job seekers regarded extra superannuation as a must-have, a jump from just eight per cent pre-pandemic.

Almost a quarter (23.1 per cent) of workers ranked health and income insurance as a must-have in the 2023-24 survey, compared with 16 per cent in 2021.

Gender equality is not negotiable

Demonstrating the growing importance of gender equality among job seekers, almost half (44 per cent) of respondents consider working for an employer with a commitment to gender pay equality a must-have.

“We have increased female participation in the workforce, so we see within the data that gender pay equality is an important agenda,” North said.

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