Forget about the money...

For many professionals, money is not the deciding factor in determining their career path or choice of employer. 

Research with Gen Ys (roughly: those in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties) by Hays found that whilst ‘personal wealth’ is one of the top three goals of their career for 40%, ‘interesting work’ comes in the top three for 60%.

Learning contributes to making work interesting, and its importance is also evidenced in the same research: ‘Training and development is the most important factor for more than half (53%) when deciding to work for a potential employer.’

Additionally, ‘97% of people surveyed say that they would study for a professional qualification if it helped their career progress, and almost 20% cite ongoing study opportunities as an important factor when deciding whether to work for a potential employer.’

Making a difference

We recently carried out some research with the members of a professional body with specialist healthcare roles. In discussions with a reference group of members, we asked what they saw as the key benefits of working in this particular profession.

The group talked about a range of factors, from work-life benefits - such as running their own business and flexible working conditions - to role-specific factors, such as autonomy, solving particular problems and being able to use their interest in science and medicine. A common theme was the ability to make a difference to people’s lives through the specialist treatment and care they could provide.

A list of benefits that the group had mentioned was drawn up and tested with the wider membership, to help determine which factors the membership body could highlight to raise awareness and promote careers in the sector.

Most survey participants - 4 in 5 - picked “Improving patients’ quality of life” among the top three benefits that are most important to them.  And for half of those surveyed, it was ranked first: the most important benefit on the list.

The list of benefits in the survey didn’t include pay or salary because it wasn’t mentioned by the reference group.  Perhaps it should have been listed; if so, would it have been ranked high for importance?  It’s unlikely. This profession is not known for being particularly financially rewarding at most levels, so any campaign to encourage individuals to consider a career in this sector has to appeal to a different side of people’s nature: an interest in the subject coupled with a genuine desire to improve the health of others.

Membership bodies have an important role in helping to raise awareness of their profession and can work with employers to understand what motivates people - generally, and specifically - to work in their sector.  This depth of knowledge will ensure both employers and membership bodies stay relevant at the individual level, to maximise recruitment and retention.