Der Standard – 26.03.2022

What truly makes employers attractive: salary or sense of community?

What employees want

The latest Gallup study asked 13,000 U.S. employees what they want in their next job – and surprise, surprise:

Better pay and benefits and a better work-life balance are priorities for all respondents, but there are significant differences between what women and men want.

Women value a diverse and inclusive company: more than half of women said that working in a diverse and inclusive company is “very important” (compared to only 30% of men).

In general, the wish list for an employer is as follows:

  1. allows for a better work-life balance and personal well-being
  2. significantly increases my income or improves my benefits package
  3. enables me to do what I do best
  4. provides more stability and job security
  5. the organization is diverse, open to all people, and lives inclusion (primarily desired by female employees)


Can this study leave us unimpressed in Austria? Does none of this apply here? And is the talk of “the great resignation”, i.e., the great desire to quit and change jobs, a phenomenon that has no relevance in this country?

Unfortunately, no. Austria, too, has become an employee market where job openings clearly outnumber job seekers.

And for some jobs, such as nursing, IT developer, data analyst, AI designer, SM manager, workers can already hardly escape offers.

And it’s not just a shortage of skilled but all workers – as Elisa Aichinger, partner at Deloitte Human Capital, calls it – that’s plaguing employers, they also have to increasingly deal with the wishes of Generation Z.


…and the GenZ in particular

In 2020, consulting firm PwC surveyed 30,000 GenZ representatives across EMEA, including 667 Austrians between the ages of 16 and 28 – and here’s what the Austrian GenZ’s wish list looks like:

1st place: flexible and predictable working hours as well as the possibility to use a home office

2nd place: Good basic salary and overtime pay

3rd place: Interesting and challenging work

4th place: Performance-based promotion and credible and fair performance appraisals

5th place: Direct colleagues in the team and the management style of the direct supervisors

13th place: Physical and mental well-being at work is particularly important to women

39th place: Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is twice as important in Austria, and three times as important in Hungary as in Slovakia.

40th place: Most modern technology (equipment and systems) is primarily desired by men.

53rd place: social impact of work


Salary, community, flexibility, and fairness are just a few of the buzzwords to be taken more seriously, because according to a Zenjob survey from May 2021, only 19% still want to work for a corporation. And in the US, more than half of all 18–24-year-olds are already looking for a new job.

Anyone who believes that the demands of the younger generation will level out after 5 years on the job at the latest is unfortunately bound to be disappointed, because Generation Y also knows that they currently have good cards to play.


But Generation Y is also seizing the opportunity

Since the beginning of the pandemic, just under half of the Austrian workforce has been thinking about changing jobs: Currently, 46 percent are open to a new job or have even already taken concrete steps. This is the result of a representative survey conducted by the opinion research institute Forsa on behalf of the career network Xing. A total of 2,523 employees in German-speaking countries were surveyed, 510 of them in Austria.

Among 30- to 39-year-olds, the proportion of those willing to change jobs is particularly high – 53 percent are prepared to move to a new employer.

In 2021, just under half of all employees surveyed – namely 48 percent – stated in a representative Austria-wide Marketagent study commissioned by that a higher salary would be the main reason for them to change their job – ahead of more recognition in second place and a better work-life balance in third place. One in five also misses a sense of purpose in their job.

How can employers respond to remain attractive?

All these surveys can make you a little dizzy.

But to be honest, it’s completely pointless to ask yourself whether you should offer more money or more teamwork as a company.


Fact is, the salary has to be in line with the market, and as a company you have to create an inclusive community with your team that proudly pulls together and knows that their contribution is valued and contributes to a greater purposeful cause. Simply offering salary 5-10% above the competition would be as short-term as it is short-sighted.


  • What will help is for a company to clearly ask itself the following questions:
  • What type of employee do we want or need, and to what extent do we appeal to precisely this group of people with our current corporate culture?
  • To what extent do current employees consciously or unconsciously help us to attract new employees?
  • What messages do we convey with our employer branding strategy, what messages do we convey with our compensation policy, and do they serve to retain or attract the most suitable people?
  • What exactly do the employees and candidates want? What is the expected cost-benefit ratio?
  • To what extent do we live a culture of fairness and inclusion, where every employee feels part of the community and her contribution to the company’s success is valued?
  • How do we deal with employees who want to leave the company? Drama and exclusion or part of the learning process for the company as much as for the individual.
  • How much do we make the company’s purpose comprehensible to everyone, so that employees can be proud of the company and are happy to make their contribution?
  • How flexible are our structures and processes so that permanent change is not a threat to everyone, and innovation finds its place?
  • How much do we feel responsible for the mental and physical well-being of our employees and provide a framework of security and care?


A company can only get loyal top employees if it takes these issues seriously, and it pays off:

If you don’t want to offer just any product or service, you need employees who identify with the company, who bring innovation to the company and loyally protect the company’s secrets, and who represent the company to the outside world accordingly. Here we are again with the required “we” feeling, the community, and the desired fairness – only this time it benefits the company itself!