Employees Not Actively Job Searching Would Still Consider a New Opportunity, Survey Says

Group of diverse coworkers walking through a corridor in an office, holding paper cups.
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Modern-day American workers are a restless bunch always on the lookout for other opportunities, with more than half saying they would consider switching jobs even though they aren’t actively looking for one, according to a new survey by audit and tax advisory firm Grant Thornton.

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The State of Work in America survey, which polled more than 5,000 full-time employees of U.S. companies, found that 29% of respondents are actively searching for a new job with a different company. That’s down from 33% in a similar survey last year — not unusual, considering 21% of people switched jobs in the past 12 months.

The majority of survey respondents who aren’t actively looking for a new job, 51%, said they would still consider switching jobs if the opportunity arose. That figure rises to 58% for employees who earn annual salaries of $100,000 or more.

Meanwhile, the survey revealed that about one-quarter of workers don’t think they are being paid fairly for their contributions to their employer’s success. Only about half say the benefits and rewards they receive are much different from what they would get from another employer.

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The survey was taken during a period of great upheaval in the U.S. labor market, with millions of Americans either switching jobs or leaving the workforce as part of the Great Reshuffle/Great Resignation.

Nearly 69 million American workers left their jobs in 2021, with nearly 70% doing so voluntarily — a one-year record, Grant Thornton noted. Almost 10 million workers left their jobs during November and December alone.

“Resignations have showed signs of slowing in the last month, but now is not the time for employers to let their foot off the gas,” Tim Glowa, a principal and leader of Grant Thornton’s employee listening and human capital services offerings, said in a press release. “American workers have found their voice during the pandemic, and they are perhaps keener than ever to ask for what they want — or find it elsewhere.”

The survey revealed a handful of key reasons employers took a new job, including better pay and work-life balance, opportunities for advancement, better benefits and greater autonomy. More than one-third (34%) of respondents said their new jobs gave them a better opportunity to balance work and personal commitments, while 40% said they left their job for a company that offered them a pay raise of 10% or more. Within the latter group, 13% said they received a salary increase of 20% or more.

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The survey also revealed how much bargaining power workers have in the current labor market. Nearly 60% of respondents who recently took new jobs had two or more competing offers. When asked why they declined other offers, 42% said the base pay didn’t meet their needs, and one-third said other companies took too long to make an offer. Another one-third said the benefits didn’t meet their needs.

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Flexibility is also becoming much more important to employees. Eighty percent of respondents said they want more choices in terms of when and where they work.

“Flexibility in where you work, and sometimes when you work, is no longer viewed as an extra benefit,” said Angela Nalwa, a managing director and HR Transformation practice leader at Grant Thornton. “In fact, flexibility is now a minimum requirement as job-seekers look for their next career opportunity. The companies who insist on a mandatory return-to-office for all employees must find a differentiator that separates their organization from the pack.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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