2022 Job Seeker Report: What Workers Want (And Expect) In A Post-Covid Job Market

By Kathy Morris - Jul. 26, 2021

Find a Job You Really Want In

Hiring has returned with a vengeance. Yet, many employers are struggling to fill positions or even attract qualified applicants.

The past year has changed the way we work- and what workers expect from a job. More workers than ever before have had the opportunity to work remotely– and realized they are both productive and have a strong preference for a less conventional workplace.

During this same period, many workers also had the opportunity to reflect on their careers– and not only consider both their priorities, but also make changes to put make those priorities a reality.

To find out how this unconventional period has shaped workers’ wants, we surveyed 500 workers from diverse industries across the United States to answer the question, “What do workers want (and expect) in a post-Covid job market?”

The results? Flexibility is no longer a want in the workplace, for many workers it is now a deal breaker.

KEY FINDINGS AND FAST FACTS

  • 76% of currently employed workers are casually or actively job hunting.
  • 36% of respondents plan to only be in their job for under a year, with 16% saying they hope for a time period of under 6 months.
  • The most desirable job benefit is “flexible work environment.”
  • Flexible work environments are followed by health insurance (edged out by only .4% at 59%), remote work(58%), and retirement benefits(46%) as the most desired benefits.
  • Under 15% of respondents listed free food, gym memberships, and charitable contributions as the most desirable benefits.
  • 58% of workers say a long commute is a deal breaker for them.
  • Long commute is followed by poor work life balance (57%), unpleasant office (51%), and inflexible work environment(42%) as factors that would lead candidates to turn down a job.
  • 50% of workers say working remotely is their ideal work environment, more than any other option.
  • 63% of job seekers are looking for remote or work-from-home jobs; More than any other job type.
  • Following remote jobs, workers are most likely to be looking for full-time positions.
  • Workers are least likely to apply to temporary jobs, seasonal, temp-to-hire, and internships.
  • The other 89% see lack of remote work availability as a deal breaker or a serious downside.
  • The most common deterrent in applying to a job is location, with 73% saying it has stopped them from applying for a job.
  • The other most common reasons workers choose not to apply to a job are company reputation (55%), unclear job description (43%), and poor benefits(41%).
  • 22% of workers say they will stop applying for a job if they have to create an account or are redirected to another website.
  • Only 11% of workers said availability of remote work in some capacity wasn’t important at all to them.

A Labor Force That’s “Open” To New Opportunities


Faced with an uncertain job market (and uncertain world) many workers put off career changes during the height of the pandemic. However, after more than a year of stagnation, many employed workers are now evaluating their options.

In fact, 76% of employed workers are at the very least “open” to job opportunities. Employers may be surprised to find steadfast employees turning in their 2 week notices or expecting healthy counteroffers. Yet these numbers suggest the vast majority of workers do not considered themselves tied in to their current job.

36% of respondents plan to only be in their job for under a year, with 16% saying they hope for a time period of under 6 months.

Since employee turnover is expensive and a logistics headache, it begs the question: What, if anything, can employers do to change these numbers or at the very least buck the trend?

Below, we explore job seeker wants- and deterrents- in further detail.

What Type Of Jobs Are Workers Looking For?

The pandemic has raised awareness of remote work as a possibility. For many workers, the flexibility of WFH and no commute, makes these jobs extremely desirable. In fact, 63% of job seekers are looking for remote or work-from-home jobs; More than any other job type.

Following remote jobs, workers are most likely to be looking for full-time positions.

However, with an abundance of jobs and many companies hiring en masse, workers now have the opportunity to be flexible with the jobs they apply to. Workers are least likely to apply to temporary jobs, seasonal, temp-to-hire, and internships. Instead preferring to apply for jobs with more permanency.

Interestingly, of the less permanent roles, gig work is preferred (30% to lt;20%). This trend, combined with the surge in interest in remote jobs, shows an overall increased preference for flexibility in the workplace.

In fact, only 11% of workers said availability of remote work in some capacity wasn’t important to them. The other 89% see lack of remote work availability as a deal breaker or at least a serious downside.

This means employers refusing to adapt with the times may find themselves with a small list of potential candidates– or forced to offer more in wages or other benefits to attract talent.

Job Hunting Turn Offs

Many employers struggle to attract talent from the initial job posting. The reasons for lack of applicant enthusiasm can be both structural (the company and job itself) and cosmetic (hiring process, poor description used in job listing).

The most common deterrent is location, with 73% saying it has stopped them from applying for a job. This is followed by company reputation (55%), unclear job description (43%), and poor benefits(41%) as factors that lead candidates to decline to apply.

While many companies may not be comfortable with offering full remote work environments, a hybrid or flexible schedule (allowing employees to avoid or shorten commutes somewhat) could help increase applicant options.

Similarly, with so many job options available, job hunters are now prioritizing their time on clear, informative job listings (and yes, that includes providing an upfront salary range) where they aren’t forced to jump through hoops or create a company exclusive account just to apply.

We also asked respondents to tell us other job turn-offs that were not included in our list. Below you can see the most common responses we received.

Other Turn Offs

  • Job assessments
  • Dress code/Job Environment
  • Amount of PTO
  • Poor schedule/lack of flexibility
  • Covid response
  • Too much responsibility
  • Under or over qualified

MOST DESIRABLE Job BENEFITS, Deal breakers, and dream office environment

The desire for flexible work environments has increased dramatically since early 2020, when health insurance was the most in demand benefit. In fact, 59.4% of our respondents chose “flexible work environment” as one of their most desired benefits, compared to only 24% under two years ago.

Flexible work environments are followed by health insurance (edged out by only .4% at 59%), remote work(58%), and retirement benefits(46%) as the most desired benefits.

Ultimately, while workers have a strong increased desire for flexible work environments, including remote work, this does not mean employers can skimp on more traditional benefit offerings. In fact, desire for most benefits saw an uptick overall. In the current job market employers will need to offer robust benefit packages and less conventional work arrangements if they want to attract a bounty of talented workers.

What benefits might by overhyped by employers but underappreciated by workers? Under 15% of respondents listed free food, gym memberships, and charitable contributions as the most desirable benefits.

In practice, this means companies might consider scrapping the free breakfast and instead allowing workers the flexibility to do whatever they want for breakfast instead.

Benefits might attract qualified candidates, however some factors will keep candidates from even considering a job in the first place; Regardless of how flashy the benefits package is.

The number one factor workers cited as a deal breaker is a long commute. 58% of workers say a long commute is a strong no for them.

Long commute is followed by poor work life balance (57%), unpleasant office (51%), and inflexible work environment(42%) as factors that would lead candidates to turn down a job or not even apply in the first place.

Workers were far less concerned about a company’s political standpoint, job title, and the availability of free food/coffee.

50% of workers say working remotely is their ideal work environment, more than any other option. The second most popular choice, open office was only chosen by 26% of workers as their preferred work environment.

What is the least popular work environment? Cubicles. While traditional cubicles often win out over open offices when ran head to head, when given a wider range of options “remote work” wins. It seems most people would rather have real, private walls and the control to change their environment as they see fit.

METHODOLOGY

The data in this report were gathered through an online survey commissioned by Zippia. We surveyed 500 American job seekers to uncover current job seeker expectations.

Our survey respondents were recruited through ClickWorker and the survey hosted on their online platform. Each respondent was asked the same set of questions about their job hunting behavior and desires.

Summary

The pandemic accelerated the trend of remote work. Throughout our survey, the dramatic increase in demand for remote and flexible work environments was clear.

In a job market where hiring demand is high and 76% of employed workers are open to new opportunities, companies may need to adjust their policies and benefit to attract top talent and retain their current workforce.

50% of workers say remote work is their ideal worker environment. An impressive 59.4% of workers say “flexible work environment” is their most desired benefit. Meanwhile, long commute, poor work life balance, unpleasant office, and inflexible work environment are all leading job “deal breakers.” All of these factor can be aided by remote or less rigid work environments.

While the demand for more traditional benefits has not been lessened over the pandemic, the trend is clear: The workspace of the future is flexible. Companies that are unable to adjust to the shift will struggle in recruitment and retention.

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Author

Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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