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Oregon Workers Say What Matters Most in a Workplace

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 decisionsBeing in control of my own destinyEarning a good salaryHaving a job I can be proud ofLearning new things, having new experiencesBeing with people I respectEnjoying work, having funHaving a work-life balanceObtaining health insurance benefitsContributing to society’s benefitFeeling appreciated by leadership and coworkersHaving people admire my accomplishmentsProximity to where I live

How Important Each Workplace Quality is to Oregonians

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

“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:

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:

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:

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 (

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