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Global – British workers value work-life balance more than other European workers

21 February 2012

A study conducted by the recruitment firm Robert Half International has found that remuneration and work-life balance are cited as primary reasons by UK employees looking for new opportunities while 73% of HR directors said they were concerned about losing key staff.

The UK is leading the way in Europe with regards to how employees view work-life priorities, the study claims. The research, which surveys executives from businesses across the globe found that nearly three in 10 (29%) HR executives in the UK – the highest across Continental Europe – cited work-life balance as the primary motivation for employees leaving their company for other opportunities.   

Employees in Switzerland are less concerned about this balance, with only 4% stating that ‘work-life’ was a priority, followed closely by the Czech Republic (8%). 

However, remuneration is still the top reason for employees to leave their jobs, according to 32% of UK executives, although work-life balance is the top response amongst London-based respondents, with nearly four in 10 (38%) indicating so. Worldwide, remuneration remains a primary motivation for employees sourcing other jobs, with Singapore (58%), China (52%), Brazil (50%), Italy (45%) and Australia (40%) all favouring salary benefits. 

Conversely, career advancement is moving up the ranks with countries such as Germany (39%), Luxembourg (34%) and Netherlands (33%) all preferring this factor. On the other hand, career development is not seen as a deciding factor in countries such as Dubai (11%), China (12%), Singapore (12%) and Italy ( 13%) - instead salary is seen as the main factor when choosing a new role.     

“The work-life balance topic has always been highly debated – with many employees looking for ways to balance both professional and personal commitments.  Companies looking to attract and retain the best staff need to stop focusing solely on remuneration but on other aspects of the work-life environment which are important to employees, such as career development and flexible working,” said Phil Sheridan, Managing Director Robert Half UK. 

Interestingly, Britain comes a close second in the international rankings next to Chile, with one in three (32%) HR executives admitting that work-life balance was a priority for employees when evaluating other jobs. 

“Employee retention has become one of today’s most critical staffing challenges in a fast changing environment and nearly three in four (73%) UK HR directors are concerned about losing top employees in the coming year. Stable employment and lucrative compensation no longer have the influence they once did to keep workers with a company for the long-term.”   

“Employees are looking for more. They want varied and meaningful work, challenging assignments, opportunities for career development and help with balancing work and their personal lives. If most of these boxes are not ticked, then organisations run the risk of losing that ‘star employee’. While the tendency to retain employees through counteroffers is on the rise, this is often only a temporary fix.”

The survey was commissioned by Robert Half International and conducted by an independent research company between December 2011 and January 2012. It includes responses from more than 1,800 Human Resources Directors across 19 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates as well as 200 executives in the United Kingdom.

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