What makes a ‘dream employer’ in the eyes of UK workers? – Exclusive jobseeker insight

Over half of UK workers have changed their priorities when searching for the ‘dream employer’ according to our latest research.


Before COVID-19 forced the UK in to lockdown, the three most important factors as chosen by a panel of UK workers when selecting their dream employer were:


  1. Job security (62%)
  2. A personal interest in an organisation, it’s products and services (48%)
  3. An employers reputation (49%)


For our latest research we’ve tracked trends and behaviours from pre-lockdown to now, producing insight to help organisations retain staff and hire the talent they need to help Keep Britain Working.


Here’s what 2,500+ UK workers told us about their ‘dream employer’, and how things have changed during a pandemic:


55% of respondents say their priorities have changed when searching for their ‘dream employer’ 


Over half of UK workers have changed their priorities by either ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ since March. 

42% of survey respondents feel there’s been no change to priorities, 3% feel unsure.

The split of opinion is reflective of how COVID-19 has affected age groups differently. Our latest research tells us that 18-24 year olds are more likely to have their priorities changed than others.

And with recent ONS figures suggesting the young hit hardest by lockdown financial squeez, it seems 18-24s will continue to face enormous challenges to come.


An increased salary drives the majority of job searches, but a company that treats its staff better rises in importance


Around a third of all respondents mention an increased salary when asked about their motivation behind looking for a new job.

Other desirable factors when looking for a new job include a company that treats its staff better (35%) and a new industry where job security is better (31%).


What’s your motivation behind looking for a new job with a ‘dream employer’?


‘Looking for a company that treats its staff better’ was selected #1 by those working in Health & Social Care (40% of Social Care respondents selected).

Similarly, ‘Looking for a company that treats its staff better’ was selected #1 by those working in Transport & Logistics (41% of Transport & Logistics respondents selected)


Nearly half of all respondents called safety and wellbeing at work their biggest change in priority post-lockdown


We asked: What priorities have changed the most as a direct result of coronavirus?

‘Staff care i.e. wellbeing and safety’ was selected by 47% of all respondents.

‘Job security of the industry the organisation sits within’ was selected by 40% of all respondents.


Top five areas UK workers now look for in a ‘dream employer’ post-lockdown:


A graduate training scheme was most selected by respondents aged 18-24. The security of a training scheme would benefit those coming out of university, providing a much-needed sense of stability in an uncertain time.

A strong social presence and well-known figure head were also named as desirable qualities – and could relate to how organisations handle their communications in a time of crisis.


One of four respondents believe it’s important to work for a recognisable brand


We asked our respondents: Is it important to you to work for a recognisable brand?

25% of respondents say ‘Yes’ – representing the lowest share in the five years we’ve run this research.

This may suggest change in being a household, recogniseable name becoming less important in choosing what makes the ‘dream employer’.

For those that feel it’s important to work for a recognisable name, it’s job security (39%) that plays the prominent role and has increased with coronavirus’ economic impact.


Why’s it important to work for a recognisable brand?


Better pay and benefits drops slightly in importance when compared to our pre-lockdown survey results, with a sense of pride attached to working for a big name remaining stable.


Ethical values see the biggest increases in importance when choosing a ‘dream employer’ among respondents post lockdown


We asked: What factors contribute when choosing your dream employer?

When comparing our two data sets from March against July, we see the biggest % increases for an organisation with ethical values (+5%), job security (+4%), a good reputation as an employer (+2%) and positive brand image and reputation as an employer (+3%).


What factors contribute when choosing your dream employer?


With job security, reputation and good ethical values named as the desirable qualities for a dream employer, how can employers use these elements to attract the top talent to their roles?

Now’s the time for employers to share good news stories and positive plans for the future. Voice your organisational ethics with pride. Shout about your reputation for career development and new opportunities. 

Jobseekers are looking to these areas now more than ever, and organisations that communicate successfully will have the edge when retaining their best people and hiring top talent.


About our research

For five years reed.co.uk have commissioned research of UK workers to better understand the motivations behind a job search, and expectations around the hiring process. 

We ran this year’s edition throughout January and February 2020, getting results in early March. Then COVID-19 reached the UK and changed everything.

In June, as the government eased lockdown, we repeated our survey with additional questions based on how COVID-19 has impacted the search for a new job.