What Do The Workers Of 2020 Want From Their Career?

If today’s employees could design their perfect job, what would it look like? Would it reflect their current role? It’s unlikely, given that record numbers of US workers are handing in their notice, according to research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So what is it that’s driving employees away? We take a look at what the workers of 2020 really want from their career, and what this means for the future of work:

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Employees want to do meaningful work

More than 9 out of 10 employees are willing to trade some of their earnings for more meaningful work. That’s according to a report by professional coaching business BetterUp, which surveyed over 2,000 US workers across 26 different industries.

This staggering insight highlights the enormous value that workers place on doing something they truly care about at work. It’s not enough to simply turn up, get paid, and repeat until retirement – people need to feel that their work has purpose.

Meaningful work empowers people to be creative and innovative, find solutions and draw up strategic plans, and ultimately make a difference to the business or wider society.


But things get in the way of people achieving that, namely manual, repetitive, and time consuming tasks that could easily be automated.

A study conducted by Goldsmiths, University of London and Automation Anywhere, which interviewed business leaders about the impact of automation on the workplace, found that 78% of staff were freed from repetitive work thanks to automation. What was left was the really meaningful work that involved creativity and strategic thinking. Because of this, 70% of staff reported an improvement in wellbeing.

Employees want to work from anywhere

Gone are the days when people traveled into the office Monday to Friday and remained at their desk from 9 to 5. Finally, it seems, this outdated and inflexible working pattern is dying out.

This is primarily thanks to the rise in remote working and people’s desire to have a better work life balance. The ability to work flexibly is at the top of employees’ wish list, with 74% willing to hand in their notice to work for a company that lets them, according to a report by Zapier. And this shouldn’t be surprising. Those who work remotely report feeling less stressed because they no longer have to face the long commute, are more productive thanks to fewer distractions, and are able to spend more time with family and on hobbies.


Today’s workforce wants – and expects – to be able to do their job from anywhere, with no geographical boundaries. And with the right business technology to support remote working, they can. People can simply log into the digital workplace from home, the local coffee shop, or co-working spaces, and virtually collaborate with co-workers, video conference with their boss, and stay in-the-know about business developments on their corporate intranet.

Employees want to work for ethical businesses

The workers of 2020 reserve their support for businesses whose values align with their own. A study by Deloitte, which surveyed over 16,000 millennials and Gen Zs, found that 36% would start a relationship with a company if they believed they were ethical. On the other hand, 37% would stop their relationship with a business if they felt they had a negative impact on society.

Despite the importance today’s generations place on companies’ ethical practices, businesses are not living up to the expectations. The same survey showed that people believed businesses should enhance their employees’ livelihoods (33%), improve society (32%), and improve or protect the environment (27%), yet less than half of those respondents believed business actually achieved these factors. Instead, 55% of people think businesses’ main priority is to generate profit.

Similarly, a report by media company Clutch, which surveyed 540 full-time workers, found that 93% consider high ethical standards to be “very” or “somewhat important”, with 38% ranking it as the most important workplace value. Patsy Doerr, global head of D&I at Thomson Reuters, notes that ethical businesses are the ones that stand the test of time. She said: “Companies that don’t act ethically don’t stick around for the long term, and employees want to be a part of something that’s built to last.” It’s clear that businesses will have to up their ethical game if they want to attract top talent and hold onto their best workers.



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