For years on end, remuneration was the top-reason why employees would say yes to a new job offer. In 2021, what employees value most in a job has changed… a lot. Employers however are left scrambling to keep up. 

Here’s a question …

How would your business cope if almost half of your staff would quit their job in a short amount of time?

See, according to the recent Microsoft report named ‘The next great disruption is hybrid work’ (based on surveys with over 30,000 workers in 31 countries) 41% of workers are considering quitting their job within the next 6 months. For Millennials and Gen Z that figure is even higher. Interestingly, studies in the UK and Ireland provided very similar figures.

The reason?

A lot has changed and there seems to be a significant disconnect between employers and employees.

Let’s explain.

In many ways, the last year and a half was a traumatic experience for both employers and employees alike (lockdowns, overnight loss of business, job uncertainty, pay-cuts, lay-offs, the adjustment to working from home). Things that were absolutely unthinkable became very real, and we all had to adjust in record speed. Fair to say a lot of thinking happened in the meantime.

Once the initial shock subsided, people re-evaluated the status quo. Is what we always thought was so important really that high up the list of priorities? As a result, many employees reconsidered their pre-covid existence… and decided things needed to change.

What Employees Want From Their Employer Anno 2021

What Employees Value Most: Work-Lifestyle Balance

For years on end, remuneration was the top-reason why employees would say yes to a new job offer. In 2021… that is no longer the case.

I guess nobody in their right mind will decline a juicy pay-check, BUT no longer at the cost of the work-lifestyle balance.

How that translates to each employee is a very individual affair. For some that means being able to work from home during school holidays, for the other it is being able to work from the other side of the country, and a third person isn’t a fan of working the obligatory 9 to 5.

Ultimately, what employees value most is… true flexibility.

A hybrid work situation allowing a balance between work from home and in the office features high on the list. Hindsight taught us that -admittedly- day-in-day-out working from home wasn’t the stuff dreams are made of, but a couple of days a week …hell yes!

Flexibility is the future of work 

What Employees Value Most: Mental well-being

But according to SEEK research, as much as people value at least partly working from home, employees also rate their work-colleagues more than before. They may have taken them slightly for granted in the past, but some solid pandemic soul-searching taught them work-mates matter more than we gave them credit for.

It’s all about mental well-being. As a direct result, a positive work atmosphere and culture score higher than before on the priorities in accepting a new job.

Many employees noted how their employer treated them during the pandemic. Employers who looked after their staff’s well-being and showed solid ethics when things fell apart, are seeing a lot of loyalty. Those who work for an employer who mainly had dollar signs in their eyes at the expense of people, are having very different ideas.

Employers may feel safe right at this moment, but if research is anything to go by, many disgruntled employees have their resignation letter ready to be pulled out of the drawer as soon as the dust settles.

What Employees Value Most: Learning, Meaning and a Career Path

But other factors like the learning opportunities that are offered, outlining a career advancement plan and whether the job gives people a sense of purpose are also valued.

According to Hays Group research, people feel a need to make a difference. In fact, Harvard Business Review reported that as many as 90% of people would be prepared to take a pay cut if it meant they could do a more meaningful job.

What Employers Want From Their Employees Anno 2021



What employers want from employees seems to be a very different story. While there are exceptions to the rule, to many employers the working from home situation is to be abandoned as soon as feasible. It’s been hard yakka to keep business afloat and employers just want to move on… asap.

Apart from the fact that not every job is suitable for flexibility, their main thinking is that as an employer you can’t control people where you can’t see them. The concern is that staff will be less efficient; opening the door for the courier delivery and replying aunty Betties’ email while on the clock.

On top of that, they also believe team communication is sure to suffer. People lose touch with what’s going on at work.

On The Flip Side…


When people are working from home, the concern around group synergy and team communication is a very valid one. But a hybrid work situation should take care of that.

As for concerns around efficiency and a desire to control people, the answer lies squarely in a shift from trying to control work hours to measuring results. In the end, isn’t it true that a good manager aims at motivating and inspiring people to be the very best employees they can be, rather than suspiciously checking their every move? Does it really matter if their cat gets a cuddle during business hours if they produce the results?

Of course, some people are less productive when they work from home, but most people are actually more productive because they don’t have to deal with the abundance of interruptions that come with office life.

COVID-19 Changed The World We Live In


When you think of it, it makes little sense to expect that a global event with such an impact would not leave its marks. It’s not just the workplace either. People are rethinking how they build home (add a home office), how they dress (comfy lounge wear with sneakers), what they eat (healthy food) , where they want to live (anywhere but Auckland), where they spend their money (on bikes and AV gear), how they spend their free time (daring the hiking trails)  and also… employee needs and expectations.

Anybody who thinks they can pick up the plan where they left it early 2020 and pretend like nothing happened is living in Lala land. Covid-19 happened, and it shook things up on all levels with long-lasting effect.

The harsh reality is, the sooner we recognise that as employers, the better off we’ll be.

Employee Expectations In The Workplace In 2021: The NZ Situation


In Aotearoa, we may have been dealt a good hand with the fall-out of the pandemic. But it turns out that the desire for a better work-life balance here is just as strong as elsewhere. According to the Randstad survey, as many as 45 percent of office workers considered it important for an employer to be open to hybrid work or full-time work from home. Some figures place that percentage even higher.

Ultimately, the question that should be on an employer’s mind is: what will happen when employees want one thing and employers want something else?

According to SEEK, as things stand, if management enforces a back to business as usual and pretend the last year and a half didn’t happen, employees (the best are always first) will gradually leave, moving on to greener pastures that let them work in a way that is important to them.

Combine that with a March 2021 unemployment rate of 4.7 (Stats NZ) despite an Auckland lockdown for parts of February and March 2021 and you have a serious problem.

In a talent-short job market, if you can’t retain staff, you’re going to have to attract them… with conditions that are not meeting employee expectations.

So… ask yourself: how would you cope if half of your staff would quit in a short space of time?

If you'd like to discuss ways to improve and align your company benefits to attract the right candidates for your business feel free to phone us directly for a chat on (09) 392 9868