Press release

27 Apr 2022

A positive working atmosphere is the most important factor for Swiss millennials – salary is losing importance

Zurich, 26. April 2022 – The world of work has changed fundamentally due to the pandemic and, with it, the demands of employees have shifted – this also applies to millennials. When looking for a job, they are not interested in money – at least not just money.

Related topics Workforce
  • „  A good working atmosphere is the most important factor in finding a job for 80 percent of female and 60 percent of male millennials
  • „  Salary is losing importance: for women it only comes in fifth place among the relevant factors, while for men it is still in third place
  • „  Work-life balance and flexible working models, such as home office, are among the top criteria
  • „  One third of women and men use personal networks when looking for a job

The world of work has changed fundamentally due to the pandemic and, with it, the demands of employees have shifted – this also applies to millennials. When looking for a job, they are not interested in money – at least not just money. The most important factor is a positive working atmosphere. For example, the atmosphere between colleagues in the workplace in a new job is more important than the salary or the compatibility of private life and work. This is shown by the study "Career Paths for Millennials 2022" conducted by the auditing and consulting firm EY and "Female Factor", a career platform for women.

For the study, more than 2,500 millennials from 18 to 40 years of age in Switzerland, Germany and Austria were asked about their career goals.

Collegiality and fun in the workplace are in demand

Millennials in Switzerland also attach great importance to a positive working atmosphere: This is the most important factor for 78 percent of women and 62 percent of men when choosing a new employer. Female millennials express similar opinions in Germany (64 percent) and Austria (80 percent). The atmosphere in the workplace is also the most important criterion for 53 percent of male millennials in Germany and 64 percent of Austrian men.

Elizabeth Whitfield, Chief Talent Officer at EY Switzerland, says the pandemic has forced employers to rethink traditional ways of working. "Flexibility – for example in the form of hybrid working models – is an important advantage if you want to be considered an attractive employer. Many companies are having to rethink this. Inclusive management principles, as well as teaming, respect and appreciation also have a significant influence on the working atmosphere."


Other top factors and the question of salary

For 63 percent of female Swiss millennials, work-life balance ranks second, followed by the aspiration to be able to perform interesting tasks (58 percent) and the expectation of flexible working models, such as the home office (46 percent). Salary is a lower priority for female millennials: Only 45 percent state that salary is a decisive criterion when choosing a new job.

For male millennials in Switzerland, the priorities are somewhat different: The expectation of being able to perform interesting tasks comes in second place for them (56 percent). While women's pay ranks fifth among the most important factors, men attach greater importance to remuneration: At 53 percent, salary is the third most important factor in their job search. Reconciliation of work and private life (51 percent) and flexible working models (41 percent) only come after salary in importance.

Millennials were also asked which aspects are relevant for their next job. They were also asked about the criteria that they used to choose their current position. For 36 percent of the women surveyed, the working atmosphere was the most important criterion during their last job search. It is striking, however, that the salary came in second place at 32 percent – together with the aspiration to be able to perform interesting tasks. Among male millennials, their salary even came first in their last job search (34 percent), followed by the working atmosphere (32 percent) and interesting tasks (29 percent).

Christoph Thoma, Head Workforce Advisory at EY Switzerland says: "The factor of enjoyment from work, projects and customers is often more critical than research seems to demonstrate. The salary is the last retaining factor when the intrinsic motivation – i.e. joy and motivation at work – suffers or is no longer provided at all. The pandemic has, in this instance, led to a clear shift in favor of intrinsic motivation, which we are currently seeing in the large wave of resignations worldwide."


Job search and career plans

A majority of 18 to 40-year-olds in Switzerland can imagine changing jobs, in their own words: 55 percent of respondents stated they were open to a new employer. 21 percent are even actively looking for a new job. For women it is 22 percent, for men 19 percent. The reasons for the job change are: Dissatisfaction with the current salary (28 percent), the search for new challenges (19 percent) and the desire to develop professionally (22 percent).

Swiss millennials primarily find a new job through their personal network; this was stated by a third of the women and men surveyed.

Elizabeth Whitfield says: "In addition to professional networks, private networks are a consistently important and promising way to find a job. As an employer, you can advertise and fill new positions with referral programs via satisfied employees. This gives a much more realistic insight into a new future working environment. Mentors can also provide valuable impulses for career development."

Between the ages of 18 and 35, achieving a higher position and further training are the most important career goals. In the group of 36 to 40-year-olds, the career focus then decreases. When it comes to their own careers, women in particular aspire to a higher position with a new employer: 24 percent state that they want to achieve this goal in the next five years. Among men, 18 percent want to make progress on this path.

Christoph Thoma says: "Two elements are particularly important. Clarity about the medium and long-term career goal and regular dialog and feedback on the current development of the employee. Ideally, this dialog should take place every three months and should also focus on the next development measures, new projects or a possible new role."

A majority of millennials surveyed by EY and Female Factor said that career progression is an issue they discuss with their supervisors. However, only around 30 percent of those surveyed feel "fully" supported by their superiors.

Show resources




About the global EY organization

The global EY organization is a leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. We leverage our experience, knowledge and services to help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies all over the world. We are ideally equipped for this task — with well trained employees, strong teams, excellent services and outstanding client relations. Our global purpose is to drive progress and make a difference by building a better working world — for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

The global EY organization refers to all member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited (EYG). Each EYG member firm is a separate legal entity and has no liability for another such entity’s acts or omissions. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via For more information about our organization, please visit

EY’s organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, with 10 offices across Switzerland, and in Liechtenstein by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz. In this publication, “EY” and “we” refer to Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.