From Chaos Comes Clarity: How the Pandemic Caused a Great Need for Career Fulfillment

As we look back on nearly two years of what in many ways can be dubbed as emotional chaos, how has what people want out of life changed, and what learnings do they want to carry into the future? Many of those reading this paper are not only reflecting on their personal lives, but also have the ability to shape their organizational cultures, and have a tremendous impact on how people in their organizations experience their work, how fulfilled they feel with their careers, and the impact that they can make. 

QuestionPro and RADICL partnered on this study and surveyed 1,200 full-time U.S. employees in organizations across various industries. We wanted to know about their work but also about their personal life, a combined whole self-experience, as we believe there has been a significant blend between the two. As we start the new year, there are so many unknowns, but what we do know is that people’s desire to have a positive impact in the workplace has grown exponentially. 

We conducted this study with the goal of providing a fresh, really human perspective on how together we can help shape the future of work, and what individuals and organizations can do to help us effectively move ahead on this conquest. If you are one of us, who is determined to make a big impact, you found yourself in the right place, please read on.

Key Insights

  • A cup half…

As we reach two years after the Covid-19 pandemic has broken out, only 47% of workers say they feel fulfilled with the life they’re living right now.

Career fulfillment by gender

60% of men and 40% of women say they feel fulfilled with their life


  • Salary is still key for attracting talent 

Half of workers (50%) ranked salary as the number one factor when choosing a work opportunity, and 71% ranked it as one of the top two factors.

salary and career fulfillment

Salary is still key for attracting talent


  • The price of organizational and personal values misalignment


A third of workers (33%) said that the company would have to pay up to, or over 20% more compared to the offer where their values are truly aligned, and 16% said that there is no price, they would need to be fully aligned with a company’s values before they accepted their job offer. 33% 16% When asked about being fully aligned with a company’s values: 33% of workers said the company would have to pay up and 16% said there’s no price.

career fulfillment value alignment

When asked about being fully aligned with a company’s values: 33% of workers said the company would have to pay up and 16% said there’s no price.


  • A brave path ahead

 73% of workers said the pandemic has given them more courage to take actions on the changes they wanted to make in their lives. 89% of workers said they have already taken at least some action, and many are not done yet; 58% of respondents said that they are absolutely ready to make further changes.

A path to big dreams and greater career fulfillment

Almost all people we asked (88%) said that they have big dreams for their lives, with half (50%) saying they absolutely do. People are increasingly starting to believe that they deserve to live a good life, perhaps even what they envision as their best life. 

Over the last several years, maybe even decades, we saw tenures in workplaces shorten, the length of marriages follow a similar trend, overall more changes being made that were once thought to be a lot more unconventional. Yet, a sense of fulfillment trails far below the dreams. 

Only 47% of workers said that they feel fulfilled with the life they’re living right now. There was also a significant gender difference in how fulfilled men and women feel, with 61% of men saying they are fulfilled and 40% of the women saying the same. 

For individuals who reported overall lower levels of fulfillment, 34% of women said that the pandemic has had a great impact on how fulfilled they are feeling, as compared to 28% of men who said the same. So, while the pandemic and the Great Resgination has certainly had an impact, the events that took place over the last couple of years are not the only factor attributed to women feeling less fulfilled than men.

What could be impacting people’s career fulfillment? How much do employees really value values? 

As we wanted to understand what drives a sense of fulfillment better, we took a closer look at career aspirations. Nine out of ten people said that they want to have a meaningful career. So what are some things that organizations can do to help positively impact people’s sense of fulfillment? Too often people think of salary as the enemy of fulfillment — as if you can really only have one or the other, that it is nearly impossible to find a job that both pays you well and that you feel good about. 

With this mindset some organizations are hopeful that if they can give fulfilling opportunities they may be able to do so at a significantly lower pay. It is important that we challenge that way of thinking and work to find a win-win. 

Why? Because salary should not be the enemy of fulfillment. Actually, for many workers, their salary is the keyway they can find fulfillment in other parts of their lives, such as having a comfortable home, taking a family vacation, etc. This is likely why in our survey we found that salary was still ranked as the number 1 factor for 50% of the workers

Get the complete study:

career fulfillment study

Ready to create a workplace culture where everyone can reach their full potential? Learn more about how to get ongoing feedback from your employees and start taking action to make a positive impact in your organization with QuestionPro Workforce.