Global study reveals Australians are in it for the money

Study gauges workplace attitudes and motivations, and reveals how employers can increase employee engagement and productivity

Qualtrics, the world’s leading insight platform, has released the results of its first Global Attitudes Toward Work survey, which mined the insights of people from 14 countries and found some surprising—and some not so surprising—findings of how Australians are motivated to work, their view on themselves and their colleagues working productivity, and how they compare to other workers throughout the world.

For its Global Attitudes Toward Work survey, Qualtrics gathered and analysed responses from approximately 6,250 respondents in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Questions regarded work issues ranging from productivity and motivation, to work/life balance and punctuality, to management, attire, job hunting and more.

The global study found that that Australian employees’ number one motivation to work was to support themselves and their families. Accordingly, salary is the number one consideration for Australians when looking for a new job, followed by work/life balance and location. The least important considerations were the option for remote work, company direction, and health benefits.

Bill McMurray, managing director APAC, Qualtrics, said, “In line with global motivations, Australians mainly work to support themselves and their families. Interestingly, Australia has the highest proportion in the world of people working to build wealth, at 15 per cent. And a further 13 per cent work purely for the enjoyment factor.”

In contrast, the study also revealed Australians are slightly less productive than global averages. Australian respondents said 67 per cent of their working hours were productive, compared with 70 per cent globally. Australians also believe their colleagues to be less productive than they are, estimating that 63 per cent of their colleagues’ time is productive.  The Germans reported the highest levels of personal productivity and they placed the most importance on punctuality. Meanwhile, the Italians ranked themselves as the least productive.

Bill McMurray said, “It’s important for organisations to understand how their employees perceive their own productivity and working conditions so they can encourage deeper engagement and commitment, and potentially implement financial rewards tied to performance and productivity. Companies can then measure employee engagement through direct employee feedback via a system such as the real-time Qualtrics Insight Platform.”

The study also revealed that two-thirds of Australian workers prefer to receive performance feedback less often than weekly.

“Workers tend to fear being micromanaged. Instead, they prefer to feel that their employer cares about them,” McMurray said.  “Australians rank caring about employees, honesty, and competence as the top three attributes of a manager. The bottom three were being persuasive, being energetic, and assertiveness. This is valuable information for companies looking to hold onto skilled workers.”

“Companies can demonstrate that they care about their workers by regularly asking them for feedback about working conditions, for example. By getting feedback directly, employers both demonstrate their commitment to their staff and get the valuable information they need to help them build a stronger workplace culture. The result is likely to be more loyal and productive employees.”

Additional survey findings included:

  •  Australians spend just 15 minutes per day on social media, compared with a global average of 17.4 minutes per day.
  •  Only 13 per cent of Australians socialise with colleagues outside of work hours. Socialising outside of work is not important for workers around the world, with an average of 83.2 per cent saying they socialise with co-workers “less often.” Italians are most likely to socialise outside of work at 35.5 per cent, and New Zealanders are least likely at 7.4 per cent.
  •  Job satisfaction sits at an average of 54 per cent around the world, with 53 per cent of Australians extremely or moderately satisfied with their jobs.
  •  52 per cent of Australians are extremely or moderately satisfied with their work/life balance. On average, 55 per cent of people around the world are extremely or moderately satisfied with their work/life balance. French, American, German, and Canadian workers tend to be most satisfied, with Greeks being the least satisfied with just 35.5 per cent identifying as extremely or moderately satisfied.
  •  Three-quarters of Australians prefer face-to-face communication, 14 per cent prefer video conferencing, and just 11 per cent prefer telephone communications.
  •  Something all countries had in common is that people would turn to friends first when looking for a new job—over job sites, family, a former employer or Facebook.  
  •  The French prioritised “dressing formally at work” far more than any other country. Over 55 per cent felt it was extremely or very important to dress to the nines, while the Swedish and Greeks felt the least compelled to dress in formal wear at work.
  •  The Polish reported the lowest levels of satisfaction with their jobs, with fewer than 43 per cent of respondents stating that they are “extremely” or “moderately” satisfied.
  •  Most people in all countries (except the Netherlands) find working for a large established company most appealing. Americans, at 38 per cent, feel the preference most strongly, while the French demonstrate the strongest penchant for entrepreneurialism, with 16 per cent most likely to report that working at a start-up is most appealing.