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The jobs market has never been so competitive.

There may be more people in work than ever before in the UK, but there are still 39 people applying for every graduate job. And it’s not just the applicants who are competing to secure the best opportunity, companies and organisations are fighting it out as well, trying to entice the best talent to their team. And workplace benefits can be handy tools to help tempt applicants into accepting that job offer.

A recent survey by totaljobs.com into workplace behaviour and attitudes asked a cross-section of people throughout the UK about the top three professional benefits they deem to be the most important. Here are the results…

Rest and relaxation

We all need a break from time to time. Whether it’s the breathing space of a three day weekend, a grand summertime adventure or a much-needed sabbatical, a strong package of holiday time is important to 53% of workers in the UK.

Those chasing the highest earning jobs are the most determined holiday hunters - 64% of those earning more than £40,000 like to  have the option to step back from what are often high-stress or management roles. Similarly, those at the peak of their careers set a high value on their time, with an average of 57% of 30 to 49 year olds valuing workplace flexibility.

Home is where the heart is

Achieving equality between your professional and personal life, that heralded work-life balance, is a challenge for many of us. Over 50% of those surveyed cited this challenge as one of their biggest workplace grievances. Being close to home, with work being a practical and integrated part of your wider world, can make that ideal state of balance more possible.

 For 63% of those surveyed, the proximity of work and home was a key priority of their job search. The length of the commute is more of an issue as you get older, with 18% more of the over 60s looking for localism than 18 to 29 year olds. Strong transport links also encourage people to look further afield, and Londoners are the least concerned with travelling long distances, with just 53% prioritising closeness to home. Whereas the comparatively sparsely populated areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland encourage 68% of job hunters to look locally.

Looking after yourself

In the whirlwind of a working week, it can be difficult to discern that anything matters more than the next meeting. However, it’s important to look after yourself first and foremost, and workplace benefits are increasingly offering people the long-term financial security and health support they want.

The survey found that 29% of workers seek to secure permanent health insurance and access to a strong pension plan when looking for a new job. Whilst it’s not an immediate priority for younger workers, anxiety about providing for oneself in a world after work picks up after the age of 40 - with a 10% jump in workers setting this as a priority, peaking between the ages of 51 and 59 at 41%. When applying for a job in the latter stages of a career, an environment that addresses these concerns through additional insurance and secure pension benefits can be a significant draw for top talent.

Family fortunes

Just as those in their 50s worry about the security of their pensions, job hunters in their 20s and 30s are concerned with the impact of work on starting a family. In 2014, the average age of motherhood hit 30 for the first time, and as parents choose to focus on careers for longer, the need for workplace flexibility is becoming paramount. 

Around 1 in 5 people between the ages of 18 and 39 prioritise the provision of childcare discounts and maternity or paternity leave when finding a new job. However, up and down the income scale and throughout the country, the percentage of people for whom childcare is a concern is remarkably consistent, making childcare one of the most universally prioritised workplace benefits in the UK.

Moving forward

Even when looking for a new job, it’s important to consider the role that comes after it, and the one after that. Jumping from rung to rung of the career ladder is made easier with intelligent planning and by taking opportunities for training and education when they arise. 

This professional self-betterment is a consistent priority across the generations, peaking at 50% of 30 - 39 year olds - affirming that ambition is not the sole preserve of fresh-faced newbies. However, secure in their roles and in demand, only 41% of those earning over £40,000 seek training and education. Similarly, just 37% of London’s working population chase such teaching and support, significantly fewer than the rest of the UK. This could be a result of the dense, highly networked nature of opportunity in the capital as opposed to sector scarcity and consequent competition in other regions. 

For many, when you think of workplace perks and benefits, it summons up fantastical images of subsidised gym membership and a free bar. However, the benefits we truly care about, the perks that make the case for a new job compelling, are actually very simple. They help work and home to connect without overlapping, compliment without clashing, and as such, are fundamental to making your job work for you.

Thomas Watson is a Senior content manager at totaljobs.com and is responsible for the launch and upkeep of Jobs Confidential, as well as a multitude of other exciting copy-based treats. An experienced editor (both in print and online), Thomas has covered everything from web design to education, student life to recruitment.


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