derStandard, 12-06-23, Guest commentary 
Thoughts around the survey mania

Do we really know what employees want?

Nowadays, a new study appears almost every day that credibly claims to know what employees really want.

Who has more to offer?

Chat GPT 4 spits out the following answer right away – and fortunately also names the sources:

“The latest surveys in the DACH region on “What Employees Want” show that flexible working hours and home office are among the top benefits.

An attractive salary, promising opportunities for professional development, or flexible working hours are some of the things that employees want from companies.”

RANDSTAD Workmonitor 2023 surveyed 35,000 employees worldwide, including 1,000 Austrians, aged 18 to 67: security, financial support from the employer, the right values and, above all, good work-life balance are at the top of the hit list:

As before – despite the explosion in costs – professionals are not backing away from their No. 1 desire for a good work-life balance. More than half (59%) would not accept a job that disrupted this overall balance, a feeling that is particularly pronounced among 18- to 34-year-olds and decreases significantly among those over 45.  45% of respondents would quit if work prevented them from enjoying their lives.

And the majority of respondents (55%) said they would resign if they did not feel a sense of belonging at their company. In addition, many people insist that their company’s values match their personal values: 36% said they would not accept a job if this were not the case.

In a survey conducted by STATISTA.DE in Austria in May 2022 on what people want from their employer, 76 percent of respondents cited a positive working atmosphere. This was consequently the most important requirement; followed by flexible working models with 57 percent and performance bonuses with 54 percent.

GREAT PLACE TO WORK survey specifies that Generation Z can be tied to a company much longer or find a job much more attractive if the following 5 aspects are present in the company:

  1. fair pay
  2. justified promotions
  3. meaningfulness and purpose of the job
  4. recognition and appreciation
  5. security and stability

Find, retain, engage

This wish-hit list could be continued indefinitely, and ultimately every company must think carefully about how to be attractive to its target audience in order to ‘find and engage’ the right people.

The fundamental economic interest of a company is to create an environment in which employees are committed to contributing to the company’s success. At a time when Austria – like the rest of the Western world – has become an employee market where vacancies significantly outnumber job seekers, it is much more challenging to call for this commitment.

– According to the Randstad survey cited above, just under 30% confirm they have been ‘Quiet Quitters’ at one time or another.

– Nearly 40% of professionals are now open to a new position – and thus open to a potential change.

Offer at Gault Millau level

Companies must realize that whatever they promise at the beginning of an employment relationship, they will be assessed by their actions: and unfortunately, the outcome – whether excellent or appalling – far too often depends on a single direct manager.

What needs to be ensured instead is a consistent high-quality experience for each and every employee – at every stop on their journey through the organization.

Of course, one immediately wonders how this is supposed to work – but honestly, if the gourmet kitchen can do it, why can’t the other industries?

Aspirations depending on the phase of life

And to top off these requirements, ultimately each individual employee has very unique needs: more professional development and autonomy may be a good fit for one stage of life, while the same person may want more security and consistency a few years down the road.

A strong sense of belonging and a caring community is certainly what most want, but in order to feel treated fairly and equally, many need varying levels of transparency, participation, and ‘purpose’.

What has undoubtedly become an established trend: the desire for flexibility in terms of time and place in order to better combine work and private life. But be careful, how often people want to work flexibly again depends heavily on their personal circumstances.

Not only the customers – no, also the employees are king.

Among the most important ingredients are and ALWAYS HAVE been appreciation and a strong culture of inclusion. McKinsey confirmed this very clearly in a study published at the beginning of 2022. They talk about a climate of inclusion, in which every employee is accepted the way they are, and in which companies must provide a true sense of belonging.

The good news with all these demands on corporations: According to entrepreneur Bodo Janssen, leadership in service of employees creates “added shareholder value through employee appreciation”.


And who would be surprised that employees feeling valued contribute more to the company’s purpose and thus initiate a positive cycle: because a clear purpose increases not only the staff’s identification with as well as pride in the company – but also everyone’s success : a truly ‘royal experience in the gourmet restaurant’!