Earlier this year Money magazine did a readers’ poll about people’s most important career-related priorities. In other words, what is the most important aspect of your job or career in terms of fulfillment? The results were interesting and revealing (Elaine Pofelot, “Lean Out” July 2013, pp. 68–73, poll results p. 71).
Earning significantly more money and gaining a promotion were selected as top priorities by 12% and 13% respectively. As we have so often heard—and hopefully learned—money is not everything.
Finding more meaning in work was selected by 16%. People genuinely want work that has psychic income and not just financial income. That said, most workers do not covet losing a job. Avoiding a layoff ranked as the top priority for 22%. Given the gyrations throughout the economy over the last several years, that one is certainly understandable.
First place for the highest ranked priority workers identified was scaling back or enjoying increased flexibility at work. This was selected by 29%. People enjoy many different aspects of their jobs, but having that ability to scale back or simply exercise some flexibility seems to have great value.
Finally, it is important to understand those looking to change careers completely or become entrepreneurs. Just 8% selected this item as their top priority. Although budding entrepreneurs and career changers are among us, they are not showing up in droves. This reminds us how entrepreneurship and complete career changeovers do demand a special kind of a person.
Armed with this information, I see two potentially smart parties here:
Smart Employees. Employees should continually assess all that comes to them in their roles as workers. Monetary reward is important, but consider the other aspects mentioned above. Failing to do so might leave you in a less satisfying position in which you are overdue for a change. By shifting some of your work priorities, you might generate much more work fulfillment than you imagined.
Smart Employers. Employers should continually assess their talent management. Perhaps some opportunity exists to broaden the overall employee-reward structure to include all the factors cited above that would improve talent attraction and retention. For example, an employer might be able to tailor employee rewards based on employee preferences where feasible. Having this awareness and creating an action plan will make your company a choice employer.