Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

With unemployment at its lowest rate for many years, the cost-of-living crisis impacting professionals and businesses, and the growing competition among organisations to secure and retain top talent, it is vital employers understand exactly what professionals are looking for from their careers and offer salaries and benefits that appeal to their existing employees as well as attract potential new ones.

Commissioned with OnePoll, we surveyed 5,000 full-time employed adults in the UK across a range of sectors, such as accountancy and finance, technology, education, healthcare, and property and construction, to gain a better understanding of workers’ motivations. Using these findings, employers can tailor their salary and reward offerings to help them attract and retain professionals to grow their business.


With the increase in the cost of living and ongoing industrial strike action, salaries have become a huge area of discussion in the employment market.

Survey blog graph 1

53% of professionals surveyed said they are happy with their current wage, but that means that the remaining 47% are either unhappy or apathetic towards their salary. Offering a competitive salary will become even more essential as the recession develops over the course of 2023.

Of those who were unhappy, we asked the reasons why. They said:

Survey blog graph 2

61% of those who felt unhappy with their current pay stated the reason is that their salary hasn’t increased with the cost of living. The second most common reason was that the job or industry they work in isn’t well paid (39%). Those who were happy with their current salary were also asked why, and respondents said:

Survey blog graph 3

The majority of those happy with their pay said it was enough for them to live comfortably (39%). Other popular reasons were feeling satisfied that the work they do is right for the salary they receive (35%), and 34% believes it goes with their role.

It’s vital that companies are offering employees a salary that is sufficient for them to live comfortably on, and this is something that needs to be addressed regularly to ensure it is in line with the cost of living. We asked respondents what their current salary is and what they would deem as a comfortable, ideal salary for them. Worryingly, we found a large £13,800 disparity between the two figures.

On average, respondents are earning £35,500 per year, but state that a comfortable salary would be £49,300.

Under half (48%) of those surveyed believe they will achieve their comfortable wage at some point within their career, but the 52% that don’t, may at some point consider leaving or changing industries for a higher salary. This is concerning for businesses who are looking to retain staff and something that should be considered when deciding what salaries to offer.


While salaries are a key driver for many professionals, an enticing benefits package can often be what sways a potential candidate to accept your offer. Companies that are struggling to match the high salaries on offer at competitors should instead look at what meaningful benefits they can offer to attract and retain top talent.

We asked respondents what benefits they currently receive from their employers and also what benefits they would find most desirable if they were looking for a new job. Comparing these two graphs is a great way for employers to see where changes could be made to their own benefits packages and align them to the wishes of employees. Cost savings can be made by removing undesirable benefits, and replacing them with ones that will drive jobseekers to your roles and help you retain existing staff.

These are the most commonly received benefits:

Survey blog graph 4

Shockingly, over a quarter (28%) of respondents say that don’t receive any workplace benefits at all. The three most commonly received benefits are flexi time (23%), annual salary increments (19%), and a company pension that is higher than the required amount (18%).

Survey blog graph 5

When asked what the top-five most desirable benefits are for professionals when looking to move jobs, the most popular was an annual salary increment (43%). This is unsurprising when you consider the rate of inflation and the surge in the cost of living. The joint second most desirable were flexi time and a four-day working week (36%), followed by a performance bonus (28%), and a company pension higher than the required amount (27%).

Overall, it seems that businesses are offering benefits that match up well with what professionals look for, with many of the most desirable benefits being offered to most workers. However, there are many opportunities for employers to evaluate the perks they offer and those that are not a priority for professionals, should be replaced with more sought-after benefits.

Ways of working

Since the pandemic, the world of work has changed significantly. Working from home was previously seen as a highly sought-after benefit, only offered to some, but has now become a common way of working for many.

The below graph shows respondents’ current ways of working:

Survey blog graph 6

The most common way of working is on a hybrid basis, with 39% of employed adults working this way.

We also asked what their preferred way of working was, which matched up well. Almost half (47%) said they would choose to work hybridly, 22% would prefer to work fully remotely, and 19% said their preferred model would be fully onsite or in the office.

Career plans

We asked participants if they were looking to move jobs. We found that over half (58%) are either actively looking, or considering, new job opportunities. The main reason cited for this was insufficient pay.

Survey blog graph 7

This brings to light just how important it is for employers to get their salary and benefits packages right if they want to attract and retain talent this year.

Looking for our latest salary guides? Our 2024 guides are now available to download for free below:

Reed salary guide 2024