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2024 Engagement and Retention Report

What is your employees’ emotional salary?

Updated on January 30, 2024

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Topics Covered:

Attracting and retaining talent

Rewards and recognition

The 2024 Engagement and Retention Report from Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI) shows that while many employees are concerned about money, there are other key ways to engage and retain.

According to the seventh annual report, based on surveys of more than 5,000 people including 3,800 employees, two-thirds of employees have one foot out the door, either planning to job hunt or considering it in the year to come. Inflation and cost of living challenges have workers focused firmly on compensation in 2024, but for those able to make ends meet career and flexibility are still major considerations for job hunting.

How many people will job hunt in 2024?

Two out of every five employees (41%) say they will definitely job hunt in 2024, with an additional 24% saying they aren’t sure yet.

This has dropped since a high in 2021, the year of the Great Resignation, when more than half of employees said they would job hunt. However, overall job hunting intentions are still higher than they were pre-pandemic.

What is the number one reason to job hunt in 2024?

The main reason to job hunt in 2024 is better compensation, however, this is only true for those who are struggling to make ends meet or who must budget carefully. In past years, career progression has been the number one reason for job hunting. The cost-of-living crisis is clearly impacting employees’ job hunting motivation. For employees who can live comfortably and save, one-third say work flexibility is their main motivator.

Achievers Workforce Institute shows employees who struggle to pay core expenses are more likely to be motivated by pay when job hunting

How important is compensation for employee retention?

Compensation is very important for employee retention when workers are not paid a living wage. Workers who cannot make ends meet are unfocused, stressed, and disengaged, and are more likely to job hunt compared to both the average employee. When employees are able to live comfortable, other motivators become more important, including career growth, work flexibility, and belonging at work.

What is emotional salary?

Emotional salary is the non-monetary components that contribute to an employee feeling adequately rewarded at work.

It refers to any non-economic compensation that complements monetary salaries. The term “emotional salary” originated in academic research but has started being discussed in the business arena. Anything from sense of purpose and learning and development to friendships and work-life balance can contribute to an employee feeling adequately rewarded, regardless of actual compensation. The important distinction for business leaders is that these factors only have impact when an employee’s basic needs are being met.

When someone earns a living wage, we can motivate them with non-monetary rewards. Only one company can pay the most, but even employees who say they are paid below local industry standards are motivated by other factors including recognition, manager support, and professional development.

How can HR increase employees’ emotional salary?

AWI has found five ways to improve emotional salary:

  1. Culture alignment
  2. Frequent recognition
  3. Work relationships
  4. Consistent feedback
  5. Career progression

Each of these correlates positively with job satisfaction regardless of whether or not compensation is above or below market rate. For example, when employees say their company makes values-aligned decisions they are more engaged, committed, and productive at work, compared to average.

When HR can implement initiatives that increase emotional salary, their company can compete for talent beyond base salary. Learn more about driving these results at your organization. Download the 2024 Engagement and Retention report now.


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