Salary is no longer enough for candidates

Here, Anna Dickson, product manager, NGA Human Resources, explores what motivates employees, as salary rises fall down the priority list.

Our latest report ‘The Art of Securing Your Preferred Candidate’ surveyed 2,000 individuals who had changed jobs in the last three years. We found that the majority (56 per cent) have turned down a position because a better ‘all-round offer’ was available elsewhere.

This has clear implications for any company considering what its overall job package looks like to a potential recruit. Beyond pay, they need to think about perks, such as holiday entitlement and company cars, but also career progression plans, investment in employee development and flexible working arrangements.

A candidate’s decision is also likely to be affected by your brand image – can your organisation present itself as a market leader? If not, you may want to portray yourself as an up and coming ‘challenger’ brand. Either way, companies will want to seize the initiative and ensure they are not seen to be falling behind – especially when it comes to modern working practices.

Modern working practices

According to the candidates we surveyed, one of the biggest reasons for employees to turn down a job with higher pay was a lack of flexible working hours. Almost a third (32.6 per cent) were willing to walk away if the job didn’t provide them with the work-life balance they were seeking. In such a candidate driven market, employees are less tempted by larger salaries, and more tempted by work-life balance.

To maintain this work-life balance, remote working is popular flexible benefit. This growing trend requires organisations to offer an assortment of tools, which can range from remote collaboration software to 24-hour access to company systems.

Career progression

Before accepting a job, many candidates will also want to know where a position could eventually take their career. It’s important, therefore, that organisations clearly communicate their working culture, what learning and development programmes and career progression opportunities.

In separate research, the recruitment company Hays found that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of candidates are prepared to take a pay cut to achieve a better cultural fit. Given this significance, it’s worth ensuring that the company ethos around personal development, and any supporting training benefits, are clearly highlighted on a company’s own careers site.


Our research also found that another major factor in the decision-making process was the benefits on offer in addition to pay. More than one in four candidates (26.8 per cent) said they had turned down a higher paying job offer because the benefits package was considered inadequate.

Better annual leave entitlement, health coverage and perks all make for a more enticing package, however, it’s more than that. They also help to create an impression that the organisation is looking after their employees’ needs more generally.

The whole package

There’s no doubt that the salary or wage on offer will act as the headline figure that grabs a candidate’s attention. However, before committing to a company, there will be lots of factors that they will consider before making their final decision. Everyone wants to work for a company that looks and feels successful, but they also want to know that they will progress in their career, and that the company will take care of them properly.

It’s vital therefore, that organisations have processes to help this happen, and that systems are in place to facilitate this. It’s also just as important though that this is clearly communicated, and any prospective employee is fully aware of this before they make their next employment decision.

Anna Dickson is product manager for NGA Human Resources

Owen Gough

Owen Gough

Owen Gough is a reporter for He has a background in small business marketing strategies and is responsible for writing content on subjects ranging from small business finance to technology...

Related Topics