Are your employees seeking greener pastures?

The pandemic has made younger workers question what they want to do for a career and consider switching to a new job.
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While more and more companies are returning to in-person work, it seems many employees may be seeking greener pastures. With a talent gap persisting across most industries, this could become a big problem for employers trying to retain their workers.

As the pandemic continues, a “Great Resignation” is currently happening across the country with many Americans searching for new jobs.

Elements Global Services recently analyzed Google search trends across several hundred job and career related queries in the U.S. between February 2020–July 2021 to try to learn more about what restless workers are searching for during the pandemic. Search trends across eight categories were researched: remote work; work-life balance; high pay; helping people; jobs involving travel; jobs for introverts; jobs for retirees; and jobs for teenagers.

Elements also surveyed 500 millennials and Gen Zers to learn more about their attitudes toward their careers. Among their findings:

  • Among all states, Wisconsin ranked fifth in career searches for jobs with a good work-life balance.
  • 78% of workers under 40 say the pandemic made them question what they want to do for a job/career;
  • 69% of those not working remotely say they’ve been thinking about switching to a job they can do remotely;
  • Two of the top three career and job-related searches during the pandemic are for “jobs that pay well” and “best jobs to work from home”; and
  • Searches for jobs offering high pay are up 120%. Searches for jobs that are done remotely are up 114%. Searches for jobs that are low stress are up 104%.

“Another trending category of search — certainly one that would be considered niche pre-pandemic — is careers and jobs for introverts (up 41%),” explains Max Martyn, content writer for Elements Global Services. “The pandemic has surely left some people sensitive to interaction with others, and at least a small percentage of these people are looking for work opportunities that better support that sensitivity.”

Martyn notes that while it’s common for young people to feel restless about their career paths, and to do some job-hopping for a few years, the pandemic has amplified that phenomenon. Seventy-five percent of workers under 40 did research on alternative jobs and careers during the pandemic and two out of three (65%) spent at least some time training or developing skills that could be used for a new job or career. Additionally, 69% of those not working remotely say they’ve been thinking about switching to something they can do remote.

“The demonstrated restlessness in workers is driven by shifts in their priorities, which appear to have been heavily influenced by the pandemic,” says Martyn. “Whether workers used the dramatic upheavals of the pandemic as impetus for reflection, or they’re simply being more pragmatic now that they know more, it’s clear that priorities have changed for millions of Americans.

“Notably, 58% of those we surveyed are looking for work that’s more meaningful, while 54% are looking for work that’s less stressful. Aligning with the increase in queries about careers for introverts, 47% of the workers surveyed are curious about work that involves less interaction with people.”

“Finally, we asked younger generations about dream jobs,” adds Martyn. “Seventy-six percent say they have a dream job clearly in mind, and 83% of those who do say they expect to one day realize that dream. As much as uncertainty and restlessness may be characteristics associated with millennials and Gen Zers, they are flush with optimism when it comes to dream jobs.”

Much of this research is backed up by new data from staffing firm Robert Half, which finds:

  • 49% of workers feel like they are underpaid in their current role;
  • 57% of workers in the 18–24 age group feel underpaid; and
  • One in three workers say they would consider quitting if not given a raise.

With unemployment rates dipping (5.2%), quit rates rising (2.7%), and companies struggling to find talent, salaries, wages, and benefits need to be top-of-mind.

The following are five key trends for employers to note:

  1. Employees feel underpaid. Nearly half of workers (49%) think they’re earning less than they deserve. Gen Z professionals (57%) and women (52%) are most likely to feel shortchanged.
  2. Workers may walk without a raise. Nearly one in three employees (31%) would consider quitting their job if they don’t get a pay bump by year’s end. Working parents (36%) and respondents ages 18 to 24 (48%) are most likely to make a career move if their salary doesn’t grow.
  3. Salaries are rising. Starting compensation for U.S. professional occupations is expected to increase 3.8% overall in 2022. Roles in strong demand, such as revenue cycle analyst and database administrator, may see even bigger gains. In addition, 48% of employers are offering signing bonuses to entice new hires.
  4. Compensation for remote staff varies. When recruiting for open roles, six in 10 managers will first look locally and then outside their city if it takes too long to find skilled candidates; 18% are searching anywhere from the start given the talent shortage. Companies hiring remote workers are setting their pay by:
    1. Employer’s office location: 62%
    2. Employee’s location: 38%
  5. Candidates are considering the full package. When weighing job offers, it’s not all about the money. Workers most covet:
    1. Flexible work schedules: 66%
    2. Remote work options: 56%
    3. Employee discounts: 37%

“Job openings are at a record high, and workers with in-demand skills have more negotiating power,” says Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “In this tight labor market, increasing salaries is table stakes for employers. Companies must regularly revisit pay ranges and discuss career paths with employees to align on expectations.”

McDonald adds, “While salary prospects are brighter for 2022, professionals should always do their research before asking for a raise or jumping for an opportunity with higher pay. Many factors contribute to job satisfaction, such as advancement opportunities and schedule flexibility, so it’s important to consider the full picture before making a move.”

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