Salary & work-life balance are the primary motivators for new jobs in the UK

Salary & work-life balance are the primary motivators for new jobs in the UK


James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.


10 February 2023


11 July 2024
3 min read

A recent survey from the International Career Institute (ICI) highlights that as jobs become increasingly demanding and the hours become longer, work-life balance is becoming just as important as salary when it comes to the factors most likely to motivate workers to change roles.

With the rise of technology, it has become easier for companies to ask their employees to put in extra hours with little or no notice.

This can lead to burnout and stress, which can have a detrimental effect on employee health and productivity.

Career Survey Results

The International Career Institute (ICI) recently surveyed 1000 people across the UK to explore their career confessions.

Surprisingly, it was revealed that money was the primary motivator for beginning a job for 41% of participants—showing just how important financial stability is in Britain today.

The survey data also showcased common job regrets and the key criteria of a dream job, with the majority of men (45%) attributing financial reasons as their primary motivation to enter a new career.

In comparison, 43% of women chose passion and determination when deciding on their professions.

These figures emphasise how each gender has different priorities when it comes to choosing an occupation.

What Are The Key Qualities British Professionals Look For In A New Job?

What Are The Key Qualities British Professionals Look For In A New Job?

The survey revealed that a challenging role and the ability to progress were top priorities.

Interestingly, 42% of women regret not asking for a promotion or pay rise early enough in their career—highlighting the importance of an assertive attitude when striving for success.

The Most Important Elements Of A Dream Job

  • The majority of respondents most highly value having flexible hours (58%), followed by a higher salary (49%), a healthy work culture (36%), remote working opportunities(33%) and finally, an attractive pension package (30%).
  • These results indicate that job seekers are increasingly looking for a position that allows them to balance their life and work more effectively. Unsurprisingly, a whopping 68% of the polled individuals revealed that having an appropriate work-life balance is immensely essential to them.
  • Strikingly, only 17% of respondents chose career progression as an essential element for their dream job. Their findings instead demonstrate a stronger preference among people to be valued and appreciated in their role over aiming for advancement opportunities.

Embarking on a new job search this year?

With these results in mind, you may find yourself putting more emphasis on roles with an organisational culture and initiatives that create a better work-life balance that will keep you happy in your role for longer.

As plenty of people in the workforce will be looking to change careers in 2023 to find a role that aligns with the qualities they put the most value on, let's take a look at what the survey said about career regrets from previous roles.

What Are Brits' Most Common Career Regrets?

The survey found that 39% of respondents regret not pursuing their dream job, while 36% regret not taking risks. In addition, 32% of those polled admitted to regretting not completing further education either earlier or during their career.

These figures emphasise the importance of following your passions and stepping outside your comfort zone to reach success.

  • Based on ICI research, the top five career regrets experienced by workers are working excessively (39%), staying in an undesirable job for too long (31%), failing to ask for a promotion or raise (30%), operating in the incorrect industry sector(27%) and not voicing their opinions about work-related issues (23%).
  • Of all women aged 18-34, a large proportion (42%) regret not asking for more money in work through promotion or pay rise.
  • Men aged 18 to 54 years old identified working too much as the primary regret in their life, with 40% of them reporting this.
  • This question revealed a stark difference between male and female responses, as the research found that 38% of women aged over 54 expressed regret for working too much.
  • Women aged 45-54 expressed deep regret for not voicing their issues and concerns at work (29%).

By considering these results, employers can become more aware of what their prospective employees are looking for and make sure they provide attractive jobs that cater to those needs.

It is also useful for job seekers to take note of the common career regrets expressed by their peers and take proactive steps to avoid them.


Employers should take the time to understand the needs of their prospective employees, and the survey serves as a good reminder to job seekers to stay true to what is important to them when searching for their next career move.

With an assertive attitude and proactive steps taken on both sides, employers and workers can avoid common recruitment pitfalls and find mutually rewarding opportunities for success.

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