Happiness Is Top Employee Aspiration

Workers give their definition of success at work in a new survey, and surprisingly, it doesn’t have that much to do with performance or productivity.

Employees and employers have starkly different goals, according to a global career survey from Manpower Group’s Right Management. High performance and productivity? An overwhelming majority of employees (90%) say that’s not how they define career success.

The top definition of workplace success among employees is enjoyment and happiness, while employers logically focus on performance goals. The study’s findings indicate an ongoing disconnect between employee aspirations and the performance demands of employers worldwide.

The No. 1 global career aspiration is work/life balance (26%), and the top definition of workplace success is enjoyment and happiness, which trumps salary (19%). Doing the best work is a close third at 18%, followed by respect and recognition (15%).

High performance is an aspiration for just 10% of the survey respondents, and ranks lowest in Europe (8%) and highest in Asia (14%). North America falls between the two areas at 12%. Across the generations, defining workplace success as high performance is reported evenly by Generation X (11%), Millennials (10%) and Baby Boomers (8%).

Of the three age cohorts, Millennials (14%) are the least likely to aspire to be best at what they do compared with Baby Boomers (22%) and Gen X (17%). Only 3% of employees globally aspire to achieve a prominent position.

The survey also found:

  • 35% of workers globally said the desire for work/life balance is a top motivation for changing jobs;
  • 35% said they would leave for higher compensation;
  • 25% would leave for a different work culture; and
  • 25% of workers cited more challenging assignments as a reason to change jobs.