Job satisfaction among American workers has declined since Q1 2021. The driving force of this decline appears to be unsatisfied employed adults under 35 who want higher pay and customized benefits related to remote work.

During the pandemic, satisfaction with pay declined 13% among people under 35. Not only are they increasingly unhappy with their income, they are also twice as willing – when compared to other age groups – to trade PTO days for higher wages.

Under 35’s Want Options

Employees under 35 are the most likely age group to say they want a combination of remote work and in-office time.

In a survey of 4,364 working adults, 70% reported working at a physical location or office while 30% reported working remotely. Further analysis revealed that people working outside the home were significantly happier in their current jobs, yet, at the same time, those who reported being unhappy in their jobs were the most likely to express desires for either fully remote work or a hybrid option after the pandemic.

Meeting Employee Expectations

Thirty-eight percent of working adults say they expect to be able to work from home at least sometimes once the pandemic is over, only a five-percentage-point increase in the number of people who already had some kind of work from home schedule. In other words, the outbreak of COVID-19, lockdowns, and social distancing did not create an overwhelming demand for fully remote benefits.

What people actually want are options. While one-third of working adults said they would prefer to spend all their working hours on site with coworkers, the majority desire some kind of flexible remote work schedule.

Options for remote work are so important to people that 12% say they definitely plan to change jobs because of their employer’s work-from-home policies, and 10% have already made a job change because they weren’t satisfied with their options. Sixteen percent are on the fence saying how their employer handles remote work will determine whether or not they stay or go.

The primary reason people enjoy working from home is the time they get back from commuting and preparing for the work day. They also like how much flexibility remote work days provide for scheduling — whether for coordinating family activities or simply making more space for anything outside of work.

Businesses need to focus on pay and benefits in their hiring — those who aren’t able to be flexible, particularly when it comes to scheduling and at-home opportunities won’t be able to attract and keep a strong workforce.