Most Employees Value Work Environment, Fair Treatment Over Perks

Most Employees Value Work Environment, Fair Treatment Over Perks

79% of workers have left a job due to bad company culture
A virtual team meeting

When it comes to keeping employees happy, company perks such as on-site gyms and free food may be overrated.

A majority of workers — 79% — said they have left a job in the past because it had what they considered to be a bad company culture, according to new research by physician staffing company CHG Healthcare.

When making that decision, employees were more likely to be motivated by how they were treated by colleagues and managers than the fringe benefits they had access to at work.

Work environment is key

Employees appear to be most impacted by how they feel about their workplace climate. When asked what factors come to mind when describing company culture:

  • 41% said the work environment
  • 27% said how employees are treated
  • 15% said company values
  • 9% said leadership
  • 7% said benefits
  • ~1% said perks

Employees believe there are multiple factors that contribute to a “good” company culture:

  • 16% said the workplace environment
  • 13% said opportunities for growth and development
  • 10% said having access to the company’s leadership
  • 9% said transparent communication
  • 9% said having a job that has meaning

The pandemic’s impact on company culture

Across the country, workplaces have made major adjustments during the COVID-19 crisis, with many shifting to a remote workforce in order to keep employees safe. Employees have also had to adjust to a new normal. For example, more than half of workers admitted to working longer hours during the pandemic earlier this year.

However, the CHG Healthcare survey suggests that for many employees, company culture did not take too much of a hit in 2020. More than half of respondents — 54% — said their company culture remained the same during the pandemic, and 20% said it actually improved.

On the flip side, 26% said their company culture decreased during the pandemic.

Of those respondents who said their company culture had improved during the pandemic, 40% credited increased transparency and communication within the company for the improvement. Other reasons given include the company’s willingness to keep current benefits offerings and salaries in place, cited by 15%, and better leadership support, cited by 14%.

Diversity and inclusion ranks high on desired company culture

More than two-thirds of respondents — 70% — said diversity is “very” or “extremely” important to them in their desire for a successful workplace culture.

Also, more than half of respondents — 52% — said a company's focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is important to them when they are considering taking a new job. Yet many respondents weren’t sold on their current employer’s DEI initiatives. When asked if their current employer had a clear DEI initiative, 34% said “yes,” 29% said “no” and 36% said they were “unsure.”

Some employers believe the pandemic can actually be helpful when it comes to DEI in the workplace. In fact, an earlier survey found that 80% of business leaders believed their workplaces could be more inclusive after the pandemic.

Methodology: CHG Healthcare surveyed more than 800 workers between the ages of 18-71 over a 16-day period between July and August 2020.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.