Even Your Happy Employees Want to Quit

New Year, New Job?

If you saw the number of workers looking for new jobs has risen, you’d probably think it’s because employers are withholding raises and making workers unhappy where they are. But you’d be wrong.

An annual survey by Salary.com found there was a sharp increase in employee satisfaction in 2013, yet the percentage of people looking for new jobs continued to rise. This new information is part of our annual “January Job Hunters” survey, which was taken by more than 1,200 people regarding their current jobs as well as plans to search for a new job in this year. And, for employers, it serves as a wake up call that the old ways of improving employee retention may be over.

The Good News is Your Employees are Happier

Last year’s survey returned one eye-popping statistic – an exceedingly unhappy workforce.

Last year, 69% of respondents said they were unhappy in their current job – an increase of 26% over the previous year. But perhaps this year saw more stability, because that number dropped to 46% again in last year.

While the economy isn’t recovering as quickly as we’d all like, it is moving in the right direction. The stock market is doing better, housing prices are rising, unemployment is dropping (although a portion of that is people dropping out of the labor force entirely), and hiring has picked up again. All of which likely explains the fact that people are generally happier in their jobs.

But Happiness Doesn’t Mean Staying Put

Even though workers are happier, that doesn’t mean they’re content to stay where they’re at.

For the third year in a row, the number of employees planning to search for a new job in the coming year has risen. Eighty-three percent of people surveyed said they will look for a new job in next year – up 6% from last year. If you’re wondering which age group you need to worry about most as an employer, it’s older workers ages 51-60 who are most anxious for a new job, with 85% planning to job hunt. Young people 18-25 are the most likely to stay put, with 67% planning to engage in job search this year.

How Often Are Your Employees Job Hunting?

If you’re wondering how often people job search, the answer is “more than ever.”

A total of 23% of respondents said they look for a new job every single day. That’s up 6% from last year. Most people – 26% — reported job hunting a few times a week while 16% said once a week, 10% said once a month, and 9% said every few months.

Furthermore, 27% of respondents admitted to searching for a new job during work hours in their current position.

Their Resumes Are at the Ready

More people are keeping their resumes updated and ready to be deployed.

Of those surveyed, 18% said they update their resumes on a weekly basis – up 3% from a year ago. Furthermore, 27% said they’ve tinkered with their resume within the last month, and 17% have done so within the last 3 months. Eighteen percent updated their resumes between 6-12 months ago, and another 18% said it’s been more than a year since touching up their resumes.

And They’re Going on More Job Interviews

Not only are the people we surveyed preparing their resumes, this year they’re using them more.

A third of employees last year said they were actively posting their resumes online and applying to jobs via the Internet, but that number has risen to 39% this year. Also, last year nearly half (43%) of those surveyed said it’s been more than a year since posting a resume online. This year that number dropped to 26%.

And when it comes to going on job interviews, 38% said they’ve been on an interview within the last three months. That’s up from 27% over last year.

Why Do Your Employees Want to Leave?

Now that we know 83% of people are looking to leave the job they’re currently in, it’s important to figure out what’s making them look to jump ship.

As you might guess, money (or a lack thereof) is a main concern. But while 16% of this year’s respondents cited money as their top concern, that’s down 8% from last year. Now, with increased employee satisfaction, it appears other things are driving employees out of their jobs. Have a look at the list:

  • Happy with job: 18%
  • Low pay: 16%
  • No possibility of advancement: 15%
  • Underappreciated: 13%
  • Not challenged: 8%
  • Hate boss: 5%
  • Work/Life balance: 5%
  • Job stress: 4%
  • Overworked: 3%
  • Benefits: 2%
  • Bad coworkers: 1%

What Can You Do to Get Employees to Stay?

When asked what would get them to stay put, the answer is, again, unsurprising. Money tops the list for the third year in a row, but again the percentage of people who chose it is down from 36% last year to 29% this year. Meanwhile, other areas – such as work/life balance – have an added emphasis.

Here’s the list of what workers would need to stay:

  • A raise: 29%
  • Better work/life balance: 10%
  • New boss: 9%
  • Clearer goals: 8%
  • Flex scheduling: 5%
  • Better benefits: 4%
  • More recognition: 3%

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed selected “other.”

It’s Not ALL About the Benjamins

There’s no getting around the fact that salaries and how much people earn play a big part in what jobs they accept and why. But employers take note: it’s becoming apparent that money really isn’t everything.

Of the people who plan on job hunting in 2014, 50% received raises last year. That means half of everyone who plans on looking for a job in 2014 actually received more money in the past 12 months. And beyond that, 28% of the people job hunting this year said they are perfectly content in their positions.

As priorities shift, employers will have to adapt to what employees really want if they want to retain valuable workers.

Even if they eventually leave, it’s still vital to review your company’s compensation policy regularly to make sure you’re paying employees competitively.

Career, Company, employment, Hiring, HR