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News Releases
Statewide Survey Findings: What Workers Want - 10/22/21

What qualities do Oregonians look for when choosing a place to work?

ECONOMY AND JOBS, ORGANIZATIONAL IMAGE AND BRANDING

From September 14-22, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs, including what is important to them about their place of work. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.

The online survey consisted of 1,124 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.8% to ±2.9% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.

Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire, available at the bottom of the page (Q12-28, Q29-44).

Workplace Characteristics

Respondents were provided a list of things people often feel are important in what they do as work or employment. They were then asked to rate, selectively, the importance of each item if they were choosing a place to work (Q12-28). Nearly all of the workplace features or outcomes were viewed as very or somewhat important by a strong majority of Oregonians.

Workplace/Employment Characteristics

Being in a leadership positionDevelopment of my skillsFlexible hoursInvolvement in important decisions
Being in control of my own destinyEarning a good salaryHaving a job I can be proud ofLearning new things, having new experiences
Being with people I respectEnjoying work, having funHaving a work-life balanceObtaining health insurance benefits
Contributing to society's benefitFeeling appreciated by leadership and coworkersHaving people admire my accomplishmentsProximity to where I live
  • Only being in a leadership position (37%) and having people admire my accomplishments (47%) were viewed as very/somewhat important by less than 50% of Oregonians (Q20,Q24).
     
  • Interestingly, the percentage of those who say it is very/somewhat important having people admire my accomplishments declined with age, from 61% among those ages 18-29, to 33% among those ages 65-74 (Q20).

How Important Each Workplace Quality is to Oregonians

When examining responses of “very important,” several priority tiers emerge.

  • Tier one includes features or outcomes that receive “very important” scores of 60% or higher. There is only one feature within this tier: Having a work-life balance (63%) (Q27).

    • This feature is rated highly by all major demographic groups. Notably, more than 60% of Oregonians with and without school-aged children rate this feature as “very” important.”
    • This priority placed on healthy work-life balance corresponds with recent research showing high levels of employee burnout and work-related stress during the COVID-19 pandemic[1].
       
  • Tier two includes features or outcomes that receive “very important” scores between 50-60%:

    • Obtaining health insurance benefits (58%) (Q21)
    • Being with people I respect (51%) (Q16)
    • Earning a good salary (50%): The percentage of Oregonians who view this feature of their work as “very” important is higher among renters than homeowners (57% vs. 45%) (Q12).
       
  • Tier three includes features or outcomes that receive “very” important scores between 40-50%:

    • Being in control of my own destiny (48%) (Q25)
    • Having a job I can be proud of (47%) (Q13)
    • Enjoying work, having fun (47%) (Q15)
    • Feeling appreciated by leadership and coworkers (44%) (Q19)
    • Developing my skills (42%): A notable 55% of Oregonians ages 18-29 rate this feature as “very” important. This is perhaps unsurprising as this age group is newer to the workforce (Q17).
    • Proximity to where I live (40%): Ratings of “very” important were higher among those making less than $50K per year compared to those making $100K or more (44% vs. 31%), perhaps indicating the latter group is more likely to be able to work from home (Q26).
       
  • Tier four includes features or outcomes that receive “very important” scores between 20-40%. It is worth noting that many of these features still receive high overall (very/somewhat) importance ratings from Oregonians.

    • Flexible hours (38%): Oregonians with school-aged children are more likely to view this work feature as “very” important than those without kids (44% vs. 36%) (Q22).
    • Learning new things, having new experiences (36%) (Q18)
    • Contributing to society’s benefit (32%) (Q14)
    • Involvement in important decisions (21%): Interestingly, men are more likely than women to rate this feature as “very” important for their place of work (25% vs. 18%) (Q23).

“Other” Answers

Respondents were also given the opportunity to list other characteristics, an option which many people selected. Often these were similar to the listed characteristics, but with more specific detail or elaboration.

Other job features important to Oregonians include quality and characteristics of employer leadership; impacts on physical and mental health; family; and the workplace climate:

“Integrity - of the company and the people there.”
- Male, age 65-74, Crook County, white or Caucasian

“Having a 32-hour workweek to balance mental health and work.”
- Female, age 18-29, Washington County, Hispanic/Latina/x

“Not soul-sucking.”
- Female, age 30-45, Jackson County, white or Caucasian

“Sustainable practices as a part of the workplace and products.”
- Female, age 65-74, Lincoln County, more than one race or ethnicity

A significant number of Oregonians listed a response related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the “Other” category:

“Not feeling discrimination.”
- Female, age 18-29, Washington County, Hispanic/Latina/x

“Equal pay, irrespective of gender.”
- Female, age 65-74, Washington County, white or Caucasian

“Respect and equality for all in the workplace.”
- Male, age 30-44, Multnomah County, Black or African American

“Environments of equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
- Non-binary or gender non-conforming, age 45-54, Yamhill County, white or Caucasian

 

Ranking the Most Important Employment Considerations

Next, Oregonians were asked to rank the same list of work features/outcomes in terms of the top five most important things to have if they were choosing a place to work (Q29-44). When combining ratings of 1-5, a top tier emerges, all receiving combined scores of 40% or higher. These results largely correspond with the higher-tier priorities from Q12-28:

  • Earning a good salary (64%). This feature is especially important to Oregonians ages 30-54 (72%). 20% of Oregonians rank this as their number one priority (Q29).
     
  • Having a good work-life balance (50%). This feature is slightly more important for Oregonians with school-aged children compares to those without kids (53% vs. 48%) (Q44).
     
  • Enjoying work, having fun (46%). Compared to the previous feature, this is more of a priority for Oregonians without school-aged children than those with kids (48% vs. 39%) (Q32).
     
  • Obtaining health insurance benefits (44%). Among age groups, this priority was most important for those 45-54 (53%) and least important for those ages 18-29 (36%). This is perhaps unsurprising, as many in the youngest group are able to remain on their parents’ health insurance (Q38).

It is interesting to compare these results to a 2013 Oregon Values and Beliefs statewide survey, which did not test the importance of having a good work-life balance, but did show that salary, benefits, and enjoying work/having fun were all top-tier priorities then, as well2. However, it should be noted that salary appears to be a stronger priority now than in 2013.

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us, Understanding What Divides Us

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, and urban and rural Oregonians.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives. 

Oregonians of color and whites show consistent alignment on what is important about where they choose to work. Most priorities show only a few percentage points of difference between the two groups. For example, when combining the ratings of their top 1-5 priorities, both groups selected earning a good salary as their clear choice, at an identical 64% (Q29). However, there are a few statistical differences worth point out:

  • Oregonians of color are more likely than whites to think developing my skills is a “very” important part of the work environment (54% vs. 41%) (Q17).
     
  • Oregonians of color are more likely than whites to think flexible hours are a “very” important part of the work environment (44% vs. 37%) (Q22).
     
  • BIPOC Oregonians provide slightly higher “very” important scores for feeling appreciated by leadership and coworkers than whites (48% vs. 43%) (Q19).

Urban and rural Oregonians also show strong agreement on what is important about where they choose to work, with mostly marginal differences between these groups. Here are a few datapoints that stand out:

  • Urbanites are more likely than their rural counterparts to think contributing to society’s benefit is a “very” important part of the work environment (38% vs. 28%) (Q14).
     
  • Lastly, urban and rural Oregonians place equal importance on proximity to where I live¸ with an identical 42% both groups seeing this feature as “very” important (Q26).

This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation (www.oregonvbc.org).

For more information, please see the OVBC September 2021 Survey Annotated Questionnaire and Crosstabs, visit Oregonvbc.org, or contact us.

For information about the panel, please visit About the Panel - Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (oregonvbc.org)


[1]https://www.oregonlive.com/topworkplaces/2021/09/survey-of-4000-companies-shows-loyalty-to-employers-is-down.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=theoregonian_sf

[2]2013 OREGON VALUES & BELIEFS PROJECT STATEWIDE AND REGIONAL RESULTS; DHM Research | PI Research; Oregon General Population Age 18+; N= 1,958;

Personal Finance Concerns
Personal Finance Concerns
Statewide Survey Findings: Oregon's Direction, COVID, and the Economy (Photo) - 10/20/21

Are Oregonians more or less concerned about community health, the economy, and personal finances compared to previous months?

COMMUNITY PLANNING, COVID-19, ECONOMY AND JOBS, HEALTHCARE, POLITICS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS 


From September 14th through 22nd, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.

This online survey consisted of 1,124 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.8% to ±2.9% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%.

Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by are of the state, gender, age, and education.

This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample size permits reliability.

Findings will include a citation of the relevant question, which can be referenced in the annotated questionnaire and tabs, available on our blog at oregonvbc.org/blog, or sent directly upon request.

Right Direction or Wrong Track?

Oregonians’ opinions on the direction of our state have returned to the more pessimistic lows of last winter. About half of Oregonians say things in the state are headed off on the wrong track (49%). Nearly as many say things are headed in the right direction (45%), and the rest aren’t sure (Q1).

  • These results are almost identical to December 2020 (52% wrong track)1 and February 2021 (49% wrong track)2, and show increased pessimism from May 2021 (42% wrong track, 49% right direction)3.
  • The youngest and oldest Oregon adults are the most optimistic. Among people under 30, half say things are headed in the right direction (50%). Among people 75 and older, 60% say things are headed in the right direction.

Coronavirus Concerns

When thinking about coronavirus, concerns about community health remain high, whereas concerns about personal health have fallen slightly since last summer (Q2-4).

More than three-quarters of Oregonians say they are somewhat or very concerned about the health of their communities regarding coronavirus, a figure essentially unchanged since July 2020 (77% to 78%)4 (Q4). 

  • Levels of concern are similar across the state, irrespective of region (75% to 78%).

Meanwhile, 60% of Oregonians say they are concerned about their own health when it comes to coronavirus, a figure just slightly lower than in July 2020 (63%)4(Q2).

  • Concern is higher among vulnerable, older age groups than among young people: 68% of people 75 and older say they are concerned, compared to 51% of people under 30.

Concerns about the economy vis-à-vis coronavirus remain. All in all, Oregonians are more concerned about Covid-19’s impact on the economy than their individual health—but concern doesn’t mean the economy is in bad shape (Q5).

  • More than eight in ten Oregonians say they are somewhat or very concerned about the economy in the wake of coronavirus (84%), a figure that has slipped only slightly since July 2020 (87%)4.
     
  • People of all social ideologies share concerns about the economy (81% to 93%). This marks a difference from health concerns, about which liberals are significantly more concerned.

Oregon’s Economy

Oregonians are evenly split as to whether the state’s economy is good or poor. While 45% say it is good or very good, 44% say it is poor or very poor (Q6).

  • Overall positivity about the state’s economy has increased 15 percentage points since the beginning of the pandemic. In April 20215 and June of 20206, 30% of Oregonians said the economy was good or very good.
     
  • Men are much more likely than women to report good economic conditions (53% to 37%).
     
  • Perceptions of economic conditions may be colored by one’s own financial standing or career path. People with household incomes of $100,000 or more were the most likely of any group to rate Oregon’s conditions as good or very good (69%), compared to people with lower incomes (33-47%).
     
  • Similarly, college graduates have a more positive outlook, and two-thirds say the state’s economy is good or very good (65%), compared to less than half of people with less education (33-40%).

Personal Financial Situation

While ratings of the state’s economy have grown more positive, many Oregonians remain worried about their own finances. More than half now say they are somewhat or very worried about their personal financial situation (53%) (Q9).

  • While overall sentiment has remained roughly the same over the past year, the figure representing those very worried about their finances has creeped up, from 16% in June 20206, to 19% in October 20207, to 21% today.
     
  • Women are nearly twice as likely to express deep worry than men (27% to 15%).
     
  • When it comes to those who described themselves as very worried about their finances, there is no notable difference between households with children and without (20%, 21%).
     
  • Millennials and Gen Xers say they’ve been hit hard. About one-third of Oregonians ages 30-54 say they are very worried about their financial situation (30-34%).

People outside the Portland tri-county region are more likely to say they are struggling financially (Q9).

  • Fewer than half of residents in the tri-county region say they are somewhat or very worried about their financial situation (47%). Meanwhile, in the Willamette Valley, that figure stands at 61%. In other reaches of the state, it sits at 57%.
  • Tri-county residents are also the most likely to say they aren’t worried at all about their financial situation (21%), almost double the rate for people in the valley or elsewhere in the state (12-13%).

Opening Oregon’s Economy

Few Oregonians believe the economy is “fully restarted” since the pandemic began (13%) (Q7).

  • Those who believe this are more likely to be under 30, have college degrees, and have high incomes (18-19%).

About one in five Oregonians feel an urgency to “open everything up and restart the economy” (Q8).

  • Back in June 20206, when many businesses were still closed and fewer people were sick in the ICU with Covid-19, more than one-fifth of Oregonians said they felt strongly it was time to open back up (21%). Yet, even then, more than half felt it was not safe yet (55%).
     
  • Now, many businesses have re-opened with restrictions, and the proportion of Oregonians eager to open back up has remained mostly stable (19%). Still, 56% say it is better to stay safe and wait.
     
  • Men are more likely than women to say that things should open back up, by a margin of ten points (42% to 32%).
  • Renters—who might approximate essential workers—are among the least eager to open back up (despite few differences by age). Just 28% say it is time to fully re-open, compared to 43% of homeowners.

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, and urban and rural Oregonians.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.

BIPOC and white residents are equally likely to say things in Oregon are headed in the right direction (45%) (Q1).

  • By area, ruralites are much more wary. More than half (57%) say things are off on the wrong track. Meanwhile, about half of urbanites say things are headed in the right direction (49%).

Rural and urban residents are about equally likely to express concern about the health of their communities when it comes to coronavirus, with urban residents ever so slightly more concerned (74% to 79%) (Q4).

  • There is similarly almost no difference between rural and urban residents when it comes to concern about the economy in the wake of Covid-19 (85% to 83%) (Q5).

White residents are somewhat more concerned about the economy than BIPOC residents (86% to 74%). This figure could reflect partisan differences.

Rural areas of the state have been hit especially hard by painful impacts from the pandemic, drought, and wildfires. More than half of rural Oregonians rate economic conditions as poor or very poor (57%) (Q6).  

  • For urban and suburban areas, that figure floats between 38% and 41%.

BIPOC Oregonians are more likely to express worry over their personal financial situation (Q9).

  • Two-thirds of BIPOC residents say they are somewhat or very worried about their personal financial situation (66%), compared to about half of white residents (52%).
  • BIPOC and white residents rate economic conditions nearly identically (Q6).

Half of ruralites say it is time to open everything back up and restart the state’s economy (49%). They are joined by fewer than one in three urbanites (29%) (Q8).
 

This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation. 

For more information, please see the OVBC September 2021 Survey Annotated Questionnaire and Crosstabs, visit Oregonvbc.org, or contact us.
 

For information about the panel, please visit About the Panel - Oregon Values and Beliefs Center (oregonvbc.org)


[1] Survey conducted December 4-8, 2020; OVBC; n=615

[2] Survey conducted February 11-17, 2021; OVBC; n=600

[3] Survey conducted May 4-10, 2021; OVBC; n=918

[4] Survey conducted July 14-22, 2020; DHM Research; n=603

[5] Survey conducted April 1-6, 2021; OVBC; n=600

[6] Survey conducted May 29-June7, 2020; DHM Research; n=900

[7] Survey conducted October 1-6, 2020; OVBC; n=600