Candidate expectations

Money matters, but there’s more to a career

There’s no doubt that money matters, but there is even more to a job than a paycheque. What are candidates expecting from employers beyond the money in 2024?

Flexibility is #1

Flexibility remains a non-negotiable for many workers. A Talent poll revealed that work flexibility even beats out a competitive salary when it comes to what matters most to candidates when looking for a job – 35% noted flexibility as the most important, followed by 29% citing salary. 78% of respondents in another Talent poll also valued remote work the most when it came to the flexible work arrangements that best aligned with their preferences, while a survey of over 1,100 employees revealed that 45% would be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for remote work.

The US and flex
In the US, flexible work arrangements are being embraced by employers and employees alike, with the benefits of remote work providing an abundance of opportunity for everyone. With the ability for employers to recruit talent from across the country, the candidate pool has increased significantly. Plus, from the jobseeker’s perspective, the job opportunities on offer have significantly widened due to the availability of remote roles.

Candidates have opportunities all over the country, and more, and are not limited to looking at companies in their local area or where they might relocate. In turn that opens up a wider candidate pool for employers looking to recruit, grow and expand their workforce. Similarly, they are not restricted to candidates living within 50 miles or willing to move. That adds significant dynamism to the market from both sides and is a characteristic particularly, maybe even uniquely, driving the tech recruitment sector across North America.

Colin Etheridge,
Talent North America

Flexibility on flex work

Differing expectations in ANZ

The flexibility landscape is looking a little different across Australia and New Zealand, with many employers calling for team members to make a return to the office. As an employer, while culture-building and face-to-face time is important, setting up mandates around flexibility could be counter-productive. Creating a workplace and culture where your people want to be in the office means you can achieve your goals while also fostering productivity and avoiding those things which can hinder it – think, presenteeism and its modern equivalent, coffee badging. In the working landscape of 2024, it’s important to ensure that flexibility in differing forms remains on the table – this is not only key in attracting and retaining top talent, but also presents other workplace benefits, with those embracing flexibility in differing forms winning out:

Employers who have taken a people-first approach reap the most rewards. Allowing your team the flexibility to work from home for ‘deep focus’ tasks whilst bringing them together in-office on days where collaboration is needed has boded well. Flexibility will not only lead to being an outcomes-oriented environment, but will also keep you competitive in attracting and retaining the talent you need.

Jasmine Alderton, Client Lead, Australia, on client site through Talent Solutions

From the jobseeker’s perspective, there is higher demand on wanting more flexibility – but although this is the case, we are seeing the majority of companies enforcing a return to the office (3-5 days per week). In a tougher market this may work, but Australia still has a skills shortage, so when the market lifts we suspect employers that offer less flexibility will suffer.

Matthew Munson, Talent Sydney Managing Director

It's not as simple as flexible working or not flexible working—the debate is constantly evolving far beyond a yes or no question. What we've found is the best way to get the most out of everyone, driving engagement and keeping our culture alive, is to truly understand what drives our people. What are they really looking for out of flexibility? How can we marry that to business needs to optimise business performance? The magic answer is that not one size fits all.

Georgia Townsend, Talent People & Culture Lead

A new form of flex

If remote work isn’t on the table, consider what else you can offer your people when it comes to flexibility. Our Talent poll highlighted that beyond remote work, 16% of workers value flexible hours, while 6% compressed work weeks when it comes to the flexible work arrangements that suit them best. The takeaway? Personalisation is key.

Flex your flexible working options at every stage of the employee life cycle – from job advert, to interviews and during regular employee check ins, ensure your people feel supported as they move through life stages. Think 4-day work week, flex hours, work from anywhere. Personalisation is critical when it comes to flexibility, so don’t be afraid to ask your people what works for them.

Sarah Blanchard, Head of Implementation & Continuous Improvement, Talent Solutions Sydney

I've worked alongside many organisations that very much value work-life balance and offer it in different ways. For example, accommodating school pick-up and drop-offs, supporting other life commitments, or working irregular office hours. Flexibility may not always equate to work from home days, but instead, can be negotiated and shown through different arrangements.”

Saqib Zia, Talent Sydney Candidate Manager

Candidates’ main expectations continue to be flexible working arrangements from prospective employers, whether that be part-time, work from home, work your own hours, etc.

Stephanie Rose, Talent Brisbane Practice Manager

A positive company culture

Candidates are seeking out a positive culture in the companies they decide to work for. A Talent survey of over 500 tech candidates revealed that a positive company culture matters most to 76% of respondents when looking for a job. Ensuring that you are creating a positive workspace and nurturing your people can go a long way in attracting and retaining top talent. However, this isn’t something that should only be reserved for your permanent employees. Your contingent workforce is also seeking out a positive working culture.

Despite the freedom and overall satisfaction that comes with working freelance, contractors are still in search of a sense of belonging with their teams, and connection to their company’s mission. According to our Talent Contractor Wellbeing Report, 86% of contractors said that it was important for them to feel connected to their employer’s mission and purpose, while 88% cited the importance of feeling connected to permanent employees. Provide this to your people and they will stick by your side.

There are more questions around progression and what that looks like for a candidate. We are finding that employers who have a clear roadmap in place for providing professional development for new hires are securing great talent. Longevity and variety are at the forefront of candidates’ minds when deciding on new work.

Taliya Lukeman,
Account Executive,
Talent Adelaide

The main reasons candidates may be seeking external job opportunities seem to be poor management, limited career progression opportunities, and seeking flexible working arrangements.

Stephanie Rose,
Practice Manager,
Talent Brisbane

Opportunity for meaningful work, progression & growth

Candidates are seeking to work on projects that matter and are looking for opportunities for growth – so much so that it could be a deal-maker or deal-breaker when it comes to the roles they accept. A 2023 Talent survey of over 500 tech professionals revealed that the opportunity for exciting and meaningful work matters to 85% of respondents, alongside the opportunity for career progression and development, which matters most to almost half (48%) of respondents when looking for a job. Ensure you’re offering your people an opportunity to engage in valuable work that will progress their career, and make sure their advancement journey is visible from the get-go, so they know that there is a future with your organisation.

Environmental sustainability

In a Talent survey of over 400 global employers and tech candidates, 59% of candidates stated that a company’s commitment to environmental sustainability influences their decision to accept a job offer. 84% of candidates also agree/strongly agree that it’s important for them to work for a company that prioritises environmental sustainability. This is particularly important to Gen Z who are increasingly entering the workforce – 71% of Gen Zs cite that a company’s environmental sustainability commitment impacts their decision to accept a job. Ensure you make your commitment to the environment clear and bring your people along for the journey.

With Gen Z set to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, it is becoming more important for companies to demonstrate a commitment to diversity & inclusion, and environmental, social and governance (ESG). Candidates, in particular Gen Z, are becoming more attracted to companies that have a clear strategy in these areas and are actively looking to join organisations that are making some sort of positive impact on the world.

Kiri Evans,
Talent Aquisition Lead,
Talent Solutions Sydney

It is an extremely important time now for organisations to illustrate what separates them from the competition, as top candidates have more choice than ever. It is critical that companies clearly highlight their EVP (Employee Value Proposition) so that they can not only attract candidates but ultimately secure them.

Jason Pho,
Talent New York

Review your EVP from the perspective of employees and candidates and ask yourself, is it grounded in reality for where your organisation is today? Does your EVP include the critical elements for the talent you want to attract and retain?

Sarah Blanchard,
Head of Implementation & Continuous Improvement,
Talent Solutions Sydney

A compelling EVP

What can you offer your employees? Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is key when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent – it’s the unique value and benefit that you can provide to your people, whether it be a strong company culture, suite of perks, flexible working arrangements, or your ESG commitment. According to Gartner, companies that offer a compelling EVP can experience an almost 70% decrease in annual employee turnover and boost the commitment of new hires by close to 30%. Uncover how you can build a strong EVP with key tips from industry leaders across the globe in our Better World of Work podcast.

Don't forget DEIB

A Deloitte survey of 1,300 full-time employees found that 80% of respondents see inclusion as an important factor when choosing a new employer. If you’re seeking to attract top talent and keep them on board, DEIB should be on your priority list. A diverse working culture also statistically increases job satisfaction for employees, and improves levels of trust. The happier your people are, the more likely they’ll stay - helping solidify your teams and increase staff retention.

What’s generation got to do with it?

With different generations currently in the workforce, it’s not just age that sets these groups apart. Beyond salary, here’s what each group expects from their employer:

_gen Z

born 1997-2012

Gen Z are the most recent generation to enter the workforce. Having grown up in the digital age, Gen Z are digital natives and are seeking a technologically-integrated workplace, with 80% wanting to work with cutting-edge technology. Flexibility is also key expectation of this group, with 40% of Gen Zs considering flexible workdays a determining factor when considering whether to accept a job. Social activism, increased environmental awareness, and a commitment to inclusion are also hallmarks of this group, with DEIB and environmental sustainability being key considerations for Gen Zs when weighing up employers. One survey found that 83% of Gen Z jobseekers consider a company’s DEIB commitment before accepting a role, while a Talent survey revealed that a company’s commitment to environmental sustainability impacts 71% of Gen Z candidates’ decision to accept a job. Progression and development is also sought after by this group, with Gen Z expecting employers to provide continuous learning and professional development opportunities.


born 1981-1996

Experiencing the advent of the internet and social media, millennials grew up in a time of growing awareness of global issues, thus seeing them prioritise social justice in both a work and social context. According to a Talent survey, 75% of millennials cite DEIB as a top business priority. Millennials also highly value flexibility - 75% who are presently in hybrid or remote roles would consider looking for a new role if their employer asked them to work in office full time. Unlike the generations before them, millennials are more likely to job-hop - 21% of millennials have changed jobs within the past year, over three times the amount of non-millennials who have done the same. To keep them on board, ensuring candidate expectations are met is key. Millennials are also becoming parents, which is creating a significant shift towards gender equality. Both mothers and fathers have strong expectations to be supported by employers, not just in terms of parental leave support but also accommodating return-to-work arrangements. Millennial fathers are taking advantage of parental leave arrangements more than ever before. For millennial women who have come through their careers watching Gen X mothers work hard to secure flexible arrangements, flexibility is no longer considered a perk or privilege – it’s a minimum expectation.

_Gen X

born 1965-1980

Gen X grew up during a transformative era, seeing the end of the Cold War, alongside technological and societal shifts. In the workforce, Gen X are noted to be self-sufficient and results-oriented. Career stability is highly important to this generation, with one survey noting that 35% of Gen X values job security the most in the workplace. Work-life balance is also a key expectation of 86% of employees in this generation, with an EY survey revealing that 29% of Gen X who are considering leaving their job in the next year would be enticed to stay if they were offered hybrid/work from home arrangements. Wellbeing initiatives are also important, with 78% of Gen X employees considering wellness programs and benefits as “must-haves”.


born 1946-64

The Baby Boomer generation is often characterised by a strong work ethic and loyalty to employers. They value job security and stability, with 42% citing job security as the most important aspect of work. This generation values loyalty and a long-term commitment to their employers, with over 40% of US baby boomers remaining with their employer for over 20 years, and 18% for more than 30 years. Meaningful work, learning and development, and mentorship opportunities are also key to this group, with McKinsey research highlighting that Baby Boomers value meaningful work almost as much as compensation. A Deloitte study also found that Baby Boomers are looking to share their knowledge through mentorship. Alongside these opportunities, health and wellbeing benefits are also valued, with 79% of Baby Boomers considering wellness programs as an essential from employers .

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