When asked to describe a “dream job,” the average American worker has a tall order.

What They Want

According to Fast Company, in a study of 2,000 participants, 41% dreamed of being a business owner (but only if it meant working less than 60 hours a week.) In addition, they wanted:

  • 52 days off per year
  • A daily one-hour lunch break
  • 38 total workweeks
  • 11 remote workdays per month

As far as salary, the men surveyed wanted an income of at least $445,000 and women wanted around $278,600. Priorities for men included, in order: good income, flexibility and creative freedom. Priorities for women were the same, but flipped in order: flexibility, creative freedom and good income.

What They Don’t Want

What’s glaringly absent from the list above? The traditional climb up the corporate ladder. Of those interviewed, only 12% wanted a C-Suite title and 23% wanted a mid-level management role.

What Does it Mean?

While 25% of those interviewed said they are currently in a dream job, the other 75% are still wanting more.

Interestingly, many respondents who craved more from work (i.e. additional PTO) aren’t using current policies to the fullest extent. For example, 52% of Americans don’t use all of their time off and half of Americans don’t take a lunch break. Therefore, some hurdles to job satisfaction lie not in policy, but in culture and employee behavior.


The term “dream job” means something different to everyone because we all have different needs from work. However, one area of opportunity for HR managers and culture champions seems to be in the on-the-ground application of policy. As many of us know, it’s hard for employees to adopt a behavior that isn’t being modeled at the top.

In the new year, ask your own team about their “dream jobs.” Where can you help them identify opportunities to move closer to that role?