Should I stay or should I go? Criteria For a Job Change

January 16, 2023

More money or rather respect, growth, work-life balance

The European labor market is turning into an employee market in which the number of vacancies exceeds the demand: Over two thirds of all companies that want to hire have difficulty finding new employees, and it is especially difficult in retail, tourism and the care sector. In addition, there is a certain corona fatigue, because for many, work has not exactly become easier.  

A magnifying glass is held over several figures, the focus is thus directed to a figure in the center
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable personnel. Photo © shutterstock - Sudtawee Thepsuponkul

If that's what it's like, the next question is, of course, what really matters in the job.

Is it just about an attractive salary or do the following three topics score?

  • Respect and purpose (corporate culture, team spirit, good rapport with superiors)
  • Work-life balance (and the associated flexibility in time and place: flexible working hours and home office options)
  • Opportunities for further training and development and interesting tasks on the job (and the related professional growth)

If we trust the global studies by Facebook, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey, etc., this (non-representative) pulse check confirms the global trend. Facebook lists the three most important values for employees:  #sense of purpose, i.e. meaning fulfillment, career autonomy that gives room for learning, i.e. growth, continuing education, learning culture and professional freedom and a sense of community and respect, i.e. respect and team spirit. With 40%, purpose and respect are the most important criteria, with salary in second place at 25% and flexibility in third place.

Two questions come to mind in this regard:

  1. Do you really have to choose between good salary and the three topics? Are they mutually exclusive? What if I want it all?
  2. How can I find out what the next job or new employer really offers?
A group of work colleagues around a meeting table raise their hands
A great workplace offers it all: the 3 mentioned topics and a salary to match. Photo © shutterstock - 4 PM productions

What If I Want Everything?

Congratulations, because this is the right mindset to find the best job possible! After all, no employer currently wants to lose good employees. And who says you necessarily have to change your company to get it all?

More Flexibility:

Sometimes it's enough to suggest to your employer, for example, that you work more days from home on a pilot basis for a period of 6 months, with the willingness to flexibly swap days if there are important deadlines at the office. And after this pilot phase, both sides then can make any necessary adjustments. Or you might get the opportunity to complete the 40-hour work week in four days.

More Training and Interesting Tasks:

Often, exciting projects in the company arise from, on the one hand, unpleasant tasks that no one really dares to think about and/or, on the other hand, suggestions from employees that no one would have thought of. It's not for nothing that many companies are more or less successfully striving for innovation. It goes without saying that this is usually accompanied by exciting opportunities for further training.

More Purpose and Respect:

Many managers aren't born communicators - and that's why it doesn't hurt to ask more questions about the company's purpose, to what extent the things the company does can be good for humanity - and how your own job fits into the big picture. Who says that asking good questions won't lead to better internal processes and perhaps make the work more meaningful.

You can sometimes get to more appreciation by asking yourself more often what is good for my department and my company and validating those assumptions about added value with superiors and the team. Often the simple formula applies: added value to the company means more value to you! And that can be recognition, promotion and/or more salary.

More Salary:

If the market value is significantly higher than one's own salary, one should openly address this fact in a specially reserved conversation with superiors with the help of facts (Internet research/possibly even offers from other companies) and highlight how much one wants to continue to grow professionally in and with the company and that it is therefore important to be given a professional as well as salary perspective.

And then it's a matter of leading this process to a positive end yourself - it may well take several meetings and months, but it's important not to lose sight of the goal and not to be dismissed with friendly words.

A hand stacks wooden building blocks with a money bag symbol on top of each other
Knowing and addressing your own market value is the first step in the process of negotiating more salary. Photo © shutterstock - Andrii Yalanskyi

How Can I Find Out What the Next Job or New Employer Really Offers?

More flexibility:

This is very easy to check: A new job or a new company always means new general conditions, which are usually set down in writing - and this includes working hours, place of work and the way family life, maternity leave, etc. is handled. And if it's not quite clear, be sure to ask about it when signing the contract before it's too late - if it's not already posted on the company's website.

More training and interesting tasks:

The more specific information you get about your future job content during the job interview by asking open-ended questions, the more clearly you stand out as an expert in the field and the clearer it becomes whether you are the right person for the job or how fascinating you will find the new job. This includes questions about possible career paths within the company and about further training opportunities. If you don't question critically at this point, don't be surprised about an "early divorce."

More meaningfulness and appreciation:

The extent to which the job makes sense to you and whether the company is positively shaping society and the environment in general can usually be assessed by asking open-ended questions in interviews, among acquaintances, and via Internet research. It gets more difficult when it comes to respect and corporate culture. There are three main things that help: asking why the position needs to be refilled, ideally arranging a tryout date with future colleagues, and using your gut feeling when talking to Human Resources and future supervisors.

More salary:

Be sure to check if the higher salary is only due to the difference of an all-in contract versus the previous position with individual overtime payment. Am I getting more pay because the new workplace is no longer as secure as the previous one, a risk premium, so to speak? Does the new total compensation consist of a fixed base salary and non-guaranteed variable salary components in equal parts as before, or is the bonus or commission proportionately higher in the new contract? Are the benefits comparable in both positions?

Three truisms to finish with that should be weighed against each other before any job change:

  • Money isn't everything
  • the grass is always greener on the other side
  • the only thing that is constant is change

Here you can learn more about Martina Ernst.

Read more salary negotiation tips from our career expert in our "Salary Insights - Let's Talk About Money" series.

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