TGIF? Allianz Survey on Job Attitudes

  • What drives people to wake up every morning and go to work? With labor markets turning from loose to (extremely) tight, we decided to check the pulse of workers in France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US. In April, we interviewed 1,000 people in each country to find out about their attitudes to work and how they value their jobs. Our results show that for most respondents the “classic” criteria take priority: security (54.7%), pay (48.7%) and work-life balance (45.4%). Only 15.8% of respondents said that a “sense of purpose” played a role in how they value a job. Generational differences are hardly significant in these answers.
  • Sustainability issues do matter when it comes to picking an employer. Just over 47% of respondents say they consider sustainability criteria when selecting an employer. Only a small minority (8.8%) said they were unimportant. Italian respondents are most concerned (68.9%), with American respondents far behind in second place (48.5%); British respondents pay least attention to sustainability (38.2%).
  • Our results suggest that employees’ attitudes to work fall under three broad categories. To better gauge the changing nature of job attitudes, we built three personas based on the answers to direct questions about respondents’ decisions in certain work situations: 1) “rationalists” (mainly working for money), 2) “realists” (looking for the meaning of work but not at all costs) and 3) “idealists” (who view work as a way to make the world a better place and improve themselves along the way). The majority of respondents belong to the “realists” category (45.3%). However, almost as many (40.7%) belong to the “rationalists” category. In contrast, only a small proportion (14.0%) can be classified as “idealists”. Age makes a big difference: While 21% of Gen-Z respondents can be counted as “idealists”, the corresponding proportion among Boomers is only 7%. The other generations fall exactly between these poles. But in all generations – including Gen-Z – “rationalists” are more numerous than “idealists” ones.
  • When it comes to leaving jobs, stress appears as the top factor, especially in the US and UK. But we find signs that Great Resignation has peaked in the two countries. A total of 13.2% of respondents reported they had quit their job in the past 12 months; the figures were significantly higher among British (16.8%) and American respondents (18.2%) than in France (9.7%), Germany (13.0%) and Italy (8.8%). What all five countries have in common, however, is that quit rates fall linearly with age. At least in the US, however, the wave of quitting seems to have already peaked: The rate of those planning to quit in the next 12 months (15.3% overall) is lower than in the past 12 months. This decline is dramatic among the youngest respondents in particular: their quit rate has fallen by 15pp to 22.5%. For workers who already have or plan to quit their jobs, stress (in total 24.8% for those who have already quit and 21.2% for those who plan to), work-life balance (20.4% and 22.6%, respectively) and career opportunities (22.6% and 28.6%, respectively) were the main motivations across all five countries. However, in France, Germany and Italy, career opportunities tend to dominate – especially in the case of those who plan to quit their jobs. In the UK and above all the US, stress is more prominent.
  • It is often assumed that different generations have different world views and values. Our study shows that such sweeping generalizations are delusive. The recent crises have not led millennials and Gen-Z to turn en masse towards other goals in their working lives such as purpose or personal development, because the benefits that previous generations enjoyed have turned out to be illusory. Instead the crises have underscored the value of security and stability, the base levels of “Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs” are still the strongest motivation across generations. For companies, this means that they must “deliver” in this respect; otherwise, all higher ambitions risk coming to nothing.
Arne Holzhausen
Allianz SE
Patricia Pelayo Romero
Allianz SE