Career progression takes a back seat after Covid

A new survey suggests career progression has fallen as a priority for women and men in the wake of Covid, but how long might this last?

Climbing an imaginary career ladder


Career progression has fallen down the agenda for both men and women as a result of Covid, according to a new survey.

The Pay Index conducted two surveys, one in March 2020 and the other a year later. The first survey in March 2020 received 1,322 responses. The second received 606 responses.

It found that, before the pandemic, 76% of women considered salary (31%) or progression (44%) as their career priority. In March 2021, the number of women who still considered salary or career progression to be their priority had fallen to just 18%.

Before COVID-19 male respondents were also most likely to identify progression as their career priority (41%) and a further 17% ranked salary highest, but men are now most likely to consider job security (36%) and work/life balance (26%) as their most important consideration. The combined 58% of men who responded with salary or progression from March 2020 has now fallen to just 23% (salary 13%, progression 10%).

The Pay Index say that one reason more women than men prioritised progression and pay in 2020 could be that 23% were under the age of 35, compared to only 12% of male respondents, with younger professionals considered more likely to prioritise salary and progression.

Women (38%) identify work/life balance as their main career consideration in the aftermath of Covid-19. This represents a significant increase on the 12% of women who ranked work/life balance as their priority before Covid-19.

The Pay Index says the figures should be viewed with caution: “A year of upheaval such as this is undoubtedly going to cause many to review their priorities going forward. Perhaps the most intriguing question here is how long this more mindful approach from most of our respondents to career priorities will last. Once the uncertainty of Covid-19 has diminished and life is largely back to normal, would these professionals still be valuing job security and work/life balance above salary and progression? It is surprising how quickly we forget and move on once an immediate danger has passed.”

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