Does when you were born determine what you want from work?

job market motivation

Source: Adobe Stock.

What do Australians really want from work? The answer may depend on when they were born. With four generations in the workforce together, the motivations range from Baby Boomers wanting a great culture, to Gen X wanting remote working options, Gen Y looking firmly at the salary, while for Gen Z, it is all about work-life balance.

It seems every generation is chasing a different priority when it comes to considering a role. And, in an increasingly tight labour market, knowing how to appeal to these different motivations can mean the difference between getting the right person for the job or not.

The good news is this information is available through SEEK’s interactive data portal, Laws of Attraction. It features local candidate data that’s refreshed regularly and can be filtered to see what candidates are looking for in a job — and how this changes across industries and demographics.

“It’s really valuable information and it is freely available. There are so many opportunities for employers to use the data to help them recruit their ideal candidates,” says Caroline North, Research Manager at SEEK. “It could help them understand what they could be saying about their organisation in terms of an employee value proposition, through to influencing the actual content to put in a job ad.”

To explore what attracts candidates in your industry, visit SEEK Laws of Attraction.

Advertising your understanding of candidates

In a tight job market, employers and hiring managers are facing more pressure than ever, so understanding what candidates really want is crucial.

“When writing effective ads, you need to speak to the top drivers that candidates in that industry are seeking. What employees want tends to be pretty universal, but there are nuances across industries and you want to be able to stand out and differentiate how your organisation addresses them,” says North.

This means being able to extract the ways you can address the priorities for different groups, showing that you understand what those drivers are — and putting them front and centre in job ads.

“Businesses and hiring managers can make the mistake of focusing too much on what they want that person to do for them in the job and not enough on communicating what they can offer that’s going to be important to the candidate. That might be salary, or it might be great work-life balance opportunities or a great culture — and they differ from generation to generation.”

Talking about your generation

The Laws of Attraction data shows that work-life balance is either the first or second most important factor when considering a role for all generations. But it also shows that work-life balance means different things to each generation.

“With Baby Boomers and Gen Z we see two different generations both focusing on work-life balance, but actually wanting very different things for different reasons that reflect their life stages,” says North. 

“Gen Z wants additional leave — it’s really about keeping the job experience very flexible and having increased holidays or being able to study. Whereas Baby Boomers are more focused on the amount of time they spend in the workplace, so they want part time opportunities, for example,” says North.

For Gen Y, salary and compensation is the number one driver of attraction. This generation tends to be part way into their career and most likely to have financial commitments they need to sustain, they also place increased  focus on career development and the assurance of promotion opportunities. Salary and compensation is also the main drawcard for Gen X, however instead of career development also ranking highly, we see the location of the job and the culture of the organisation taking higher priority.

“Being able to recognise the multi-generational diversity of the employee base that you either have or that you are trying to attract will definitely help you better connect with your next candidate — and help you speak directly to them,” says North.

Read now: Australia’s fastest growing salaries, and how to compete as an employer


The way we work has changed and SEEK has all the latest local insights to help you adapt and thrive. Whether you’re a business looking to attract the best talent in the competitive market, a manager wanting to retain your people or a jobseeker hoping to take advantage of the great job boom, SEEK’s advice, tools and resources can help you get there.

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