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The Thing Employees Want Most From a Job

happy workers, happy employees
Money isn't the only thing that makes workers happy. / Credit: Happy workers image via Shutterstock

For most employees, money doesn't necessarily buy happiness: Nearly 45 percent of surveyed Americans say having work they enjoy is their greatest professional priority, while about one-third consider job security, work-life balance and good benefits equally valuable, a new study finds.

The research, conducted by the Pew Research Center, shows that opportunities for advancement, a job that helps society and high pay are all lower on their list of priorities.

Although the study found that men and women value the same job characteristics in virtually equal proportions, generations differ significantly in what they are looking for from their work. In most instances, these differences in attitudes appear to be due to family and work circumstances related to age. Specifically, employees in the first decades of their working lives — millennials and Gen Xers — place much more value on opportunities for advancement than do baby boomers, who are at or near the peak of their careers.

Younger workers, who are at the time of their lives when most people marry and start raising a family, are also more likely to place a greater priority on values related to family and children. For example, millennials and Gen Xers place a higher value on jobs that offer them time off to deal with child care or family issues.

The study also discovered that baby boomers are the least likely generation interested in being managers. The researchers believe that because many millennials are comparatively recent entrants into the workforce, they are easily the most ambitious generation. About two-thirds of these young adults said they want to be the boss or a top executive someday, compared with just half of Gen Xers and 26 percent of baby boomers.

The study also found that there are more gender differences among men and women regarding their desires to be in charge. Specifically, 52 percent of men, compared to 38 percent of women, aspire to be a boss one day.

The study revealed a similar pattern emerges when children are factored into the analysis. Overall, fathers are more likely than mothers to seek a top executive job, regardless of whether they have children younger than age 18.

The findings of the study are based primarily on data from anew Pew Research Center survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, the Current Population Survey and the American Time Use Survey.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.