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‘Quality of Pay’ Is the New Work-Life Balance

quality of pay

You’ve heard of quality of life, but what about quality of pay? How do you measure benefits, perks, upward mobility, and work-life balance over a bigger paycheck?

We heard it over and over the past few years, and you may have found it to be true for yourself: Work-life balance trumps better pay. Research supports it: About 63% of the workers surveyed in 2022 said they would choose better work-life balance over better pay. An April 2023 study found that 83% of respondents would take a slightly lower-paying job for better work-life balance, and 56% said “no amount of pay increase” would persuade them to sacrifice work-life balance.

But as the cost of living remains obnoxiously high, is forgoing generous compensation for flexibility still feasible? Many workers say it isn’t, and they’re setting their sights on snagging both. Enter the ‘quality of pay’ is the new work-life balance argument.  

We’ve heard the term quality of pay more often these days, but the concept isn’t new. That might be hard to swallow if you’ve been hunkered down in a job through the pandemic, accepting enormous compensation sacrifices in exchange for remote work or other flexibility perks. While other workers have been extolling the virtues of choosing work-life balance over a bigger paycheck, the reality is:

  • Among workers who found new jobs during the pandemic, about 67% saw a pay increase of 10% or more. About 30% now earn 30% more.
  • Even among those willing to take a pay cut for better work-life balance, the reduction they are willing to endure is only about $1,710 to $2,820 annually to achieve it.
  • Some workers have been forced into steeper pay cuts than others. One UK study found that first-time moms see a 30% drop in pay directly after returning to the office after leave. 

So how can you determine your quality of pay as the new work-life balance threshold? Try these considerations:

How much are perks like remote work saving you out-of-pocket?

About 45% of workers responding to a FlexJobs survey estimate they save at least $5,000 a year by working remotely, with one in five estimating a cost savings of over $10,000 per year by working remotely. The source is likely savings on eating out, professional clothing, transportation, and similar expenses.

But, to determine your entire quality of pay for having new work-life balance, factor in the other expenses that can add up while working from home. W-2 employees cannot claim federal home office tax deductions on things like using your computer, phone, printer, or internet or a portion of your utilities, rent, cleaning, or home repair bills. Many employers will offer a work-from-home stipend or reimburse certain costs, but if yours doesn’t, it could affect your quality of pay.

What value do you place on certain benefits?

No two offers are an apples-to-apples comparison. Compensation packages include benefits and perks like vacation time, 401k contributions, health insurance, bonuses, and more that can have very different real and perceived values. Tuition reimbursement or pet insurance may be meaningful to you but very little to someone else. That means no one else can assign value to the benefits you’re offered – determining how it factors into your quality of pay for your new work-life balance is up to you.

Keep in mind, benefits are rather set-in-stone and are more challenging to negotiate than salary. XpertHR reports that nearly 90% of employers will negotiate salary for certain positions, but just 32% are willing to negotiate benefits. So, if it’s important to you, ask about it.

Do you need to do a salary gut check?

You can be grateful for work-life balance while still deserving competitive compensation. Employers know this: PayScale reports that 63% still count compensation—including competitive pay and pay equity—as one of their top challenges in 2023. Pay increases were popular in 2022 as employers tried to temper the Great Resignation frenzy, but 80% of employers still intended to continue or start pay raises in 2023.

If you’re due for a pay increase, come to the table armed with these classic tips on how to ask for a raise.

Do your homework and understand how the rising cost of living and inflation should and shouldn’t affect your ask. And, when considering a new job, negotiate from the start because failing to ask for what you want upfront could set you back for decades.

As the workplace evolves, there’s a full circle of sorts happening. Sacrificing for new work-life balance is giving way to quality of pay: receiving both competitive compensation and the flexibility you want. For jobs that can help you strike that balance, contact our recruiters.