Although base salary remains the most critical factor, growing insecurity has changed job preferences: career prospects and overtime pay have overtaken flexible working hours and a predictable work schedule in job seekers’ list of priorities, PwC Hungary says.
The Big Four consultancy compiled an annual survey of the job preferences of employees in Hungary for the sixth time this year, quizzing nearly 25,000 respondents. It has also announced its Most Attractive Employer awards.
PwC Hungary asked high school students over 16 (grades 11-12), higher education students, and employees what they look for in a job, their expectations of employers, and the employer brands they find most attractive in Hungary. Although data collection is ongoing, the awards were given based on responses received between September 12 and October 31, 2022.
In an uncertain geopolitical and economic environment, PwC found key employee preferences have changed significantly compared to previous years. Financial security has become more important than work-life balance or meeting social needs.
In line with this, items related to well-being have declined compared to the year before, PwC says. Although the possibility to work from home and human factors such as good relations with colleagues and superiors remain essential, a secure and stable workplace is now more important.
Examining the responses of school pupils and university students, they perceive their work and career as a lesser part of their identity and the employer-employee relationship as more transactional. Base salary remains the highest preference, followed by overtime and career opportunities. They are less keen to work from home, demonstrating a need to separate work from their personal life.
“For younger workers, employers should pay particular attention to developing workplace relationships and employee engagement, failing which the transactional approach can easily be detrimental to retention,” explains Márta Reguly, head of PwC’s HR consulting team.
“The results also show that young workers have much lower expectations of the ratio of home office. This could be due to fatigue induced by online learning in higher education or that they prefer on-the-job training in person,” she adds. This year’s survey also asked employees about new topics, such as a four-day workweek. While the idea itself is popular, and there are ongoing experiments to introduce it in Hungary, the survey shows that it is not a high priority for employees when considered along with other compensation elements. One reason for this may be that in the current economic climate, it is considered less of a realistic option, PwC says.
Volatile WorldThe study showed that environmental factors and the so-called VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world have a stressful effect on employees that may have lessened their flexibility, openness, and social expectations.
According to Reguly, bosses should pay increased attention to supporting employees during this period to lay the foundations for the company’s resumed growth in a more favorable economic environment.
“Employees look to their employers for the stability and security they lack in their daily lives. This comes at a time when the economic environment presents companies with significant challenges. It is important for company leaders to address these needs in their communication, maintaining transparency and informing employees about the company’s situation and possibilities,” the PwC PR specialist warns.
“In addition to employee expectations, it is also crucial to pay attention to future-proofing the company through leadership development, maintaining flexibility, and the capacity to innovate. These values can give companies a significant competitive advantage once the crisis is over, depending on how much they retain in these years,” says Reguly.
BP Hungary won PWC's Award for Top Employer in the SSC sector.