Candidate pulse slot 2 - dream job

“It’s just a job” is a phrase you don’t hear much today. Candidates aren’t just looking for a good position that pays a good salary and gives them a good chance of career advancement. They’re looking for their dream job — and they’re thinking carefully about the various qualities they expect their ideal employer to possess.

To understand what candidates dream about these days, Michael Page surveyed over 5,000 employees and jobseekers across Europe. We wanted to know what makes a manager great and the leadership mistakes that can turn a dream job into a nightmare. We also asked respondents about what matters to them in their day-to-day responsibilities. Last but by no means least, we wanted to find out whether working women have different criteria for assessing their managers than their male peers.

Read on — some of the answers may surprise you.

What makes a great manager?

Leadership matters. A great manager is a guide, mentor and teacher rolled into one who can inspire and motivate employees to reach their potential.

Here are the top qualities our respondents look for in a manager:

  • Ability to help employees reach their potential (named by 48% of respondents)
  • Respect (47%)
  • Leadership (46%)
  • Good communication skills (44%)

What makes a bad manager?

Of course, not every manager can be great — and even the best managers have their off days. So we asked respondents to name the qualities they didn’t want to see in a manager. The top answers were as follows:

  • Resistance to change — 43% say they are turned off by managers who insist on maintaining the status quo and won’t accept the need to change with the times
  • Lack of organisational skills — 38% of respondents have trouble working for a manager who is poorly organised or finds it difficult to articulate specific goals and milestones.
  • Criticising team members in public — This is a big deal for 37% of respondents who would prefer managers to give constructive criticism behind closed doors. No wonder so many respondents named respect one of the qualities they appreciate most in a manager.

Do working women and men have different criteria for assessing managers?

In a word, yes. For men, the top quality in a manager is leadership (named by 52% of respondents). Women, by contrast, prioritise respect (named by 50%). Women also emphasise good communication and helping employees reach their potential.

What don’t women want to see in a manager? Their biggest complaint is “not treating team members equally.” The fact that men perceive this as less of an issue suggests the battle for gender equity is still ongoing in many organisations. Until managers prioritise respect, inclusion and equity, many working women will feel like it’s harder for them to achieve their professional goals than their male peers.

What counts as recognition?

These days, employees aren’t content to simply do their job and draw a salary for it. They want recognition for their hard work. But what form should this recognition take?

For most survey respondents (58%), recognition means a promotion or at least a fresh set of responsibilities. An almost identical proportion insists that financial reward is also appropriate for a job well done. Most interesting, perhaps, is that just under half (49%) say that recognition means managers listening to their opinion. Once again, this takes us back to the idea that respect and the ability to absorb other points of view are cornerstones of good management.

What are employees’ top priorities?

When asked about their day-to-day priorities, a full 93% of respondents agreed that company transparency was an essential ingredient in a “dream job”. A similar proportion gave their approval to organisations that nurture career growth. Unsurprisingly in the age of COVID and remote working, 88% thought that a dream job was one where you could maintain the right work-life balance.

Some aspects of employment may matter less to employees than they did a few years back. For example, 70% of respondents think it’s important for companies to offer appealing office spaces and modern equipment. As for team building activities, 63% of respondents regard them as a priority, although this rises to 71% for people with two years or less experience.

Hot-desking: dream, nightmare or somewhere in between?

Hot-desking is the practice of allocating desks to employees only when they are required or on a rotation system. While it’s not a new practice, hot desking is becoming more common in the post-pandemic era as companies take advantage of the growth of remote working to reduce their office space.

Around four in 10 respondents (39%) would like a hot-desking option, though only 3% regard it as essential. Around 29% don’t mind either way.

When we asked people who valued the hot desking option to explain their reasoning, 66% said that they liked the idea of a workplace that could be adapted according to their needs. With hot-desking, for example, companies could make space for areas such as a quiet room. For 63% of respondents, hot-desking was a feature they equated with flexibility and freedom, giving them the option to work outside the office when required.

What about the 17% of respondents who don’t like the idea of hot-desking? The top reasons this group give for opposing the practice are:

  • Want to have their own space in the office (78% of respondents)
  • Don’t want to spend time booking desks (39%)
  • Fear that seats won’t be available when they need them on a particular day (34%)

Let us help you find your dream job

Talent is in short supply in the current hiring market, so there’s never been a better time to find your dream job. Start your search today by visiting our jobs board. And if you’re an employer who thinks they have what it takes to make a candidate’s dream come true, contact one of our expert recruiters today.

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