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International Survey Suggests Workers Care More for Company Culture Than Salary

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  • July 11, 2019
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  • When searching for a new job, 77% of respondents said they would consider a company’s culture before applying.
  • American millennials are more likely to care about work culture over salary (65%) than those age 45 and older (52%). Similar numbers were found in the U.K. (66% vs. 52%).
  • 89% of adults polled told researchers that it was important for employers to “have a clear mission and purpose.”

A newly released study from Glassdoor suggests that there may be more to attracting workers than compensation and benefits. When it comes to attracting new applicants, your company’s culture may be just as important as the salary you offer, if not more so.

The Mission & Culture 2019 survey, conducted by The Harris Poll over three days last month, polled more than 5,000 workers from the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany to measure the importance of a shared mission and company culture in today’s workplace. What researchers found, according to Christian Sutherland-Wong, Glassdoor president and COO, was that both aspects were key to driving employee interest in a company.

“Having a compelling mission, culture and values are critical for attracting and retaining top talent in a competitive job market – it is what differentiates each and every employer,” Sutherland-Wong said. “Across the countries we surveyed, it’s clear that job seekers are seeking more meaningful workplace experiences.”

It’s no surprise that companies are trying to figure out how to keep top talent from jumping to another employer. Couple the current job market with the fact that an entire generation feels job-hopping is beneficial to their careers, and you have a situation where prospective employers are doing everything they can to attract new workers. To stay competitive, many employers offer unique perks in addition to their normal benefits and compensation packages.

According to the survey, 77% of adults polled told researchers that they would “consider a company’s culture” before seeking a job there. Another 56% added that they found a good workplace culture to be “more important than salary” when it came to job satisfaction.

“A common misperception among many employers today is that pay and work-life balance are among the top factors driving employee satisfaction,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist. “We find little support for this notion in Glassdoor data. Instead, employers looking to boost hiring and employee retention efforts should prioritize building strong company culture and value systems, amplifying the quality and visibility of their senior leadership teams and offering clear, exciting career opportunities to employees.”

How important is company culture?

While more than two-thirds of respondents said that work culture was an important consideration for them when they apply for a job, that figure doesn’t encompass the scope of how important this criteria is among respondents.

According to the survey, 73% of respondents from all four countries said they “would not apply to a company unless its values align with my own personal values.” That sentiment was even more important to French and German respondents, with 76% of both groups agreeing with that statement. Approximately 70% of Americans and 69% of U.K. respondents agreed.

While the survey examined how respondents from different countries felt about the matter, it also looked at the importance of workplace culture along generational lines. What researchers found, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that millennials in the U.S. and U.K. are more likely to value a company’s culture above a salary than their 45-year-old and over counterparts. When asked, 65% of American millennials and 66% of U.K. millennials cared more about culture than compensation, versus the 54% of older workers who shared this sentiment in their respective locales.

Culture also plays a major role in talent retention. According to the survey, 65% of respondents said their company’s culture was a main reason for staying, though French workers (68%) are more adamant about this than British (63%) and German (61%) workers.

While 71% of global respondents said they would leave a job if a company’s culture took a turn for the worse, French (75%) and American (74%) workers were more likely to leave in that instance. Only 69% of Germans felt the same.

Workers want mission-minded employers

Encouraging a positive workplace culture may attract new workers, but having an overall mission statement that jives with a potential applicant’s views is also important.

According to the survey, 89% of adults said they felt it was imperative that an employer have a clear mission and purpose. That feeling was nearly universal, with 89% American and U.K. respondents, 88% of German respondents, and 91% of French respondents affirming that statement. Furthermore, nearly 80% said a company’s mission mattered to them in applying for a job.

Once they are with a company, 66% of respondents also said a clear mission is important for them to stay engaged at work. In addition, 64% said they were more inclined to stick around because of their company’s mission, though the French again led the pack in this area (70%) versus their American (64%), German (63%) and British (60%) counterparts.



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