More than half of U.S. adults are now searching for a job, or plan to look for one in the next six months — a figure that's up from 41% who said the same in November. Employees are so motivated to leave that nearly a third say they would quit their current role without having another job lined up.
In the University of Phoenix Career Institute’s second annual Career Optimism Index, the university conducted an extensive survey of 5,000 employees and 500 employers. The survey examined an issue that many studies have explored as of late: mass employee resignation. But this latest index included a unique finding — the majority of workers could be persuaded to stay if their employer made some key changes.
5 changes that could curb employee turnover
Employees are clear that certain benefits and forms of support would keep them from leaving their jobs. But while employers may be aware of worker priorities, the survey revealed that employers overestimate how much their staff benefit from the policies currently in place.
With 90% of employers agreeing that talent retention is a concern, here's what they could do to stave the flow of resignations.
1. Increase compensation
86% of employers think employees are satisfied with compensation, but 44% are "not satisfied"
In a December survey from Lending Club, 61% of adults reported that they're living paycheck to paycheck. While that figure was slightly lower in the University of Phoenix (UOP) survey (56%) it was still up 13 percentage points from its 2021 results. Roughly a third also report that they’re not paid fairly.
For these employees, job holding may seem like a losing strategy, since inflation may be undoing any progress they gain from minimal pay raises, and job switching is often more effective for income growth.
2. Provide training opportunities
89% of employers say upskilling opportunities are ample, versus 61% of employees
This isn't the first time that employees have connected advancement opportunities to their motivation for leaving. In a November survey from Robert Half, employees noted a lack of professional advancement opportunities in their current roles. The inability to upskill may be perceived as the signal of a career dead-end and a sign of reduced opportunities for wage growth.
3. Provide internal advocacy
91% of employers believe their staff members have someone in their professional life who advocates for them — but only 63% of employees agree
Employees may not feel they have an advocate within the agency, least of all in their managers. In a November GoodHire survey, 82% of workers said they would consider quitting their jobs because of a bad manager, and few employees said that their manager cares about their career progression (32%) or is honest about promotion opportunities (39%).
In addition, more than one-third of survey respondents told Robert Half that performance discussions with their manager aren’t helping them advance toward their professional goals.
4. Support mental health
81% of employers say there are mental health resources available to their employees, though just 62% of employees say so
The last couple of years have been particularly difficult on employee mental wellness. As of late 2021, a Mental Health Index from benefit provider LifeWorks showed that Americans' mental health scores had continuously declined for 19 months in a row. Notably, in the UOP survey, the gulf between employer and employee perceptions on this subject aren’t as wide as it is for other ones (19 points versus the 28-point difference for furthering career opportunities, as an example).
According to the UOP survey, nearly 48% of workers say they need care for their mental health and wellness — in particular, it notes that 44% have sought resources to help them with mental health stress related to their work.
5. Increase job security
91% of employers believe their employees feel empowered in their job, but 52% of workers see themselves as easily replaceable and 41% worry about losing their jobs
After waves of layoffs, employees are still concerned about losing their jobs. But the fear is greater for certain groups — particularly the youngest generation of workers, who are leaving their jobs at higher rates than other employees.
According to the UOP survey, 51% of workers in Generation Z say that they worry about losing their jobs, versus just 40% of Gen Xers and 29% of baby boomers. Younger workers also report lower levels of job optimism than some other groups, along with lower income workers and women.
While there's no guarantee that job-switching will alleviate the concerns felt by these workers, there's some indication it could help more than staying in the same place. In addition to pay increases, many people who’ve switched jobs — or will switch jobs — say they're seeking more generous time off benefits and the improved work-life balance that comes along with working from home.
Methodology: More than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed between Dec. 12, 2021 and Jan. 6, 2022 about how they feel about their current careers. The survey includes additional analysis of workers in the top 20 media markets across the country, as well as further polling of 500 U.S. employers considered influential or integral in decisions relating to hiring and the workplace.