There is more to work than a big salary for professionals seeking new roles

Research conducted by CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education, among 4,206 professionals globally, reveals that a good work-life balance is rated on par with salary as their top criteria when seeking a new role.

Work life balance

While across the board, work-life balance and salary were ranked equally, professionals over the age of 35 actually ranked the opportunity for work-life balance higher than salary.*

On the other hand for the most recent graduates and younger professionals (under the age of 35) salary ranked very slightly higher than work-life balance. This indicates that while there is more to work than just money for younger professionals, salary is understandably an important factor.

Within the global survey among 4,206 professionals from 75 countries, quick career progression and the chance to make an impact at an early stage were also ranked highly, as the third and fourth key criteria which would influence the decisions of all professionals to apply for a job.

While opportunities for global travel appeared in the top five criteria for the youngest respondents (19-25), it was far lower down the list for other age groups, who rated inspirational leadership further up.

Nicole de Fontaines, Executive Director of CEMS, said: “Our research reveals that for professionals globally, although salary will always be an important factor, work is not all about money. Achieving a good work/life balance and getting the chance to make an impact in a role is more important than ever, for employees of all ages.

“As we transition back into the office, at a time when attracting and retaining top talent is high on the agenda, it is important that organisations listen carefully to what professionals most desire from roles and act on this. This way, they can attract the most talented staff, benefit from the ambition of their people, encourage innovation and ultimately gain competitive advantage in an uncertain age.

“Where early career professionals are concerned this means providing plenty of opportunity to tackle projects that deliver real global impact, whilst also recognising their need to have a life outside of work. At CEMS we see this in action through our forward-thinking corporate partners, who recognise the benefit of working with young people on impactful global business projects, to make sure they are as prepared as possible when they reach the workplace.”  

CEMS carried out the research in Autumn 2021 among 4,206 of their alumni based in 75 countries around the world, the majority of whom are in professional roles, with many in senior management positions.


For more information or interviews, please contact Rebecca Griffiths or Judith Hunt at GriffithsHuntPR, email


*Overall 21% of respondents named Work Life Balance and Salary when asked about their top three criteria when looking for a new role either within their own company or a different one.

20% of respondents under 35 years old named salary compared to 19% work-life balance.

22% of respondents over 35 years old named work-life balance compared to 19% salary.


About CEMS

CEMS is a Global Alliance of leading business schools, multinational companies and non-profits that together offer the CEMS Master in International Management (CEMS MIM). The CEMS MIM is a one-year, pre-experience programme that offers students the opportunity to be educated in a truly multicultural classroom. 

Students enrolled in the programme study for one semester at their home university, with a term abroad in a different CEMS member school. In addition to completing a home degree, students complete a consulting project and an international internship. CEMS alumni careers take a truly international path:

  • 98% are employed or continuing their studies
  • 93% have worked outside of their home country
  • 65% work for multinational companies