UK employees believe job security and flexibility is more valuable than salary

Young business woman working at the computer in cafe on the rock. Young girl downshifter working at a laptop at sunset or sunrise on the top of the mountain to the sea, working day.
According to a report by UK law firm Winckworth Sherwood, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the mindset of employees surrounding work. Photo: Getty (Olezzo via Getty Images)

The majority of Brits (51%) value job security and flexibility more than annual salary when considering whether to remain at their current employer, new data has found.

According to a report by UK law firm Winckworth Sherwood, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the mindset of employees surrounding work.

The research, which included a survey conducted by YouGov involving over 1,000 employees and 500 HR decision makers, took place between January and February 2021, drawing from a wide range of sectors and business sizes across the country.

The survey was complemented by 19 in-depth interviews with HR decision makers and founders, along with opinions from five experts.


Focusing on ethical leadership, the research also measured how employers and their employees felt their organisations had responded since the start of the pandemic.

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Overall, both employers (78%) and members of staff (73%) believed that employers handled workplace matters well.

However, only 38% of employers felt they had ensured appropriate communication and engagement with employees during the pandemic, while just 22% had re-aligned executive pay with wider staff pay cuts.

The top five improvements that employees said employers could make are ensuring greater communication and engagement; being more compassionate; having more flexibility in working arrangements; offering more wellbeing initiatives; and aligning executive pay awards where the rest of the workforce has had to take reduced remuneration packages.

Harriet Calver, senior associate at Winckworth Sherwood, said: “Employees currently have an increased focus on job security and flexibility in working arrangements and we consider that job security will remain a key priority for employees for some time, given that economic recovery won’t be instant after the restrictions are lifted.

“Flexible working arrangements will also remain key as we believe there will be an expectation from employees that they can work more flexibly following a year of remote working during the pandemic. In the longer term, we expect to see a shift away from job security, as stability returns, and employees placing greater importance on the purpose, values and reputation of their employer.”

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It comes as urban inequality is set to widen long after lockdown restrictions are eased thanks to remote working success in London compared to elsewhere in the country.

That is according to new findings from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the world’s largest job site Indeed, which found that the remote-friendly professional sector could harm lower paid service industries.

Analysis of job postings on Indeed revealed that the share of jobs with remote working is 2.6 percentage points higher in London than the average around the UK. The company analysed job postings on its platform in the UK, Spain, France and Germany to assess how the number of job postings had changed since the pandemic.

A rise in high paying professional job opportunities in the capital came at the expense of lower paid service based ones, which rely on face-to-face contact with customers and have been decimated by coronavirus.

Londoners are significantly more likely than their counterparts outside the capital to work in jobs like tech, finance, law and marketing - roles that make it easier to work remotely.

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