Salary isn’t all that matters when it comes to a new job.
The size of your paycheque isn’t all that matters when you’re looking at a new job.
Michael Brooks took an annual pay cut from $45,000 to $32,000 five years ago when he left his internal purchasing job at GE Digital Energy to become an account manager at Pitney Bowes.
Since then, he has moved to commission-only compensation and almost tripled the salary he earned before the job change. He also has a better benefits plan and four weeks of vacation instead of the two weeks he had at GE.
“Career progression was huge for me. It was a big risk but it worked out better than I ever expected,” says Brooks.
He has had several promotions since he started at Pitney Bowes but he also recently turned down a sales management opportunity. “I like the freedom of being on the road and interacting with people on a daily basis, so I’m going to stay in sales for a few more years,” he says.
University of Toronto Law School graduate Sultana Bennett is licensed to practice law in both New York state and Ontario. After graduation, she worked at large Wall Street firm doing complex litigation for five years. During that time, she had two children.
When the Bennett family decided to move back to Canada in 2011, she took a 60 per cent pay cut to join a top Toronto law firm. After the birth of her third child, she accepted a position with a small federal law enforcement agency for 40 per cent less than her Bay Street job.
On the plus side, she now has a defined benefit pension plan and flexible hours. “I love that I can get home early and take care of my kids. I can sign up for and actually attend an exercise class.”
Recruiting company Hays Canada recently conducted a survey to find out what kind of salary and benefits employees are looking for. Study results reveal that Brooks and Bennett are among the majority of Canadian employees who believe that cash compensation is only one factor to consider when evaluating a new job opportunity.
Nearly three-quarters of the 5,000 Canadians in 16 different industries surveyed said they would accept a pay cut for more performance-based earning potential, improved benefits, career progression and their ideal work culture.
Thirty-four per cent would accept a reduction in pay of up to 10 per cent if offered an ideal job. Twenty-five per cent would accept a 10 per cent to 20 per cent pay cut in these circumstances. Furthermore, nearly 60 per cent of professionals would take a pay cut of 20 per cent or more to their base salary if they also received a performance-based bonus that helped them exceed their current base salary by more than 10 per cent.
Focusing exclusively on benefits, survey respondents sent a very clear message. Health and dental insurance are the most important items, more so than flexible work options and registered retirement savings plan contributions.
But Canadians definitely cherish their time off. Survey results show that vacation time is the one benefit 75 per cent employees would not reduce even if all their other benefit demands were met. In fact, 60 per cent of survey participants said they would accept a reduction in compensation and benefits to get two more weeks of vacation.
Hays Canada President Rowan O’Grady says many companies feel obliged to offer flexible work hours and work-at-home arrangements. But like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, they would prefer to have their employees in the office during working hours.
“Our research suggests that if companies are trying to figure out how to deal with work/life balance they would be far better giving everyone another week’s vacation but telling them they have to be at work from nine to five,” he says.
Career growth is the second most important factor when evaluating a new job offer next to compensation, yet survey respondents reported that they are not always worried about titles. “This suggests that when people say they want career development, what they really want is new challenges. Employers can satisfy that need by cross-training them in different departments and arranging job swaps,” says O’Grady.
Bennett feels confident that there is plenty of room to grow in her new role and move into management when she is ready. “I can approach senior staff with questions and they always take the time to ensure I understand what is happening and what the next steps are. People invest in each other in a way that I hadn’t really seen in my professional life until now.”
Weighting of factors influencing the decision to go or stay
Accept a new job
46 per cent: Salary
18 per cent: Benefits (health allowances i.e. car, vacation)
20 per cent: Career growth
16 percent: Company reputation/culture
Stay at current job
41 per cent: Salary
16 per cent: Benefits (health allowances i.e. car, vacation)
22 per cent: Career growth
21 percent: Company reputation/culture
SOURCE: What People Want 2013, Hays Canada