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Gartner: Nearly 50% of Workers Might Be Changing Jobs in Tight Labor Market

Only 53 percent of workers worldwide plan to stay in their current jobs, the fifth consecutive quarter the figure has declined, a new Gartner study found. In Q1 2018, 60 percent of workers globally said they intend to hold on to their existing employment by the analyst's measure.

In the U.S. for Q2 2018, about 46 percent of employees had a high intent to stay in their current positions, well above the international average of 32.4 percent. In Q1 2018, 60 percent said they intended to keep their existing job.

The researcher’s latest edition of its quarterly Global Talent Monitor attributed U.S. workers’ willingness to be more active in their job searches to strong economic conditions and more jobs available than there are people to fill them. In addition, U.S. workers are less inclined to go “above and beyond” at work, as employees don’t see the benefit from their employers of doing so and have options in a tight labor market, the report said. In 3Q18, only 16.3 percent of U.S. workers expressed high levels of discretionary effort – a decline of nearly 8 percent year-over-year, and the largest year-over-year decrease of the 26 global regions surveyed, according to Gartner.

If the two sets of figures are combined, only 7.5 percent of the global labor force have both a high discretionary effort and a high intent to stay at their current employer.

“We are continuing to witness a multi-year decline in employee discretionary effort both in the U.S. and globally, as workers are simply not seeing rewards from their employers for going above and beyond,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. “Ultimately, employees are capitalizing on the realities of the tight labor market – workers don’t see benefits for offering additional effort nor are they worried about getting penalized for doing less,” he said. “The surplus of jobs open in the market is bolstering employee confidence as workers believe they can easily find another position.”

Workers are also expecting an increase in 2018 bonuses and a rise next year in their salary, the report’s data showed. Base pay expectations jumped nearly a full percentage point from last quarter, with workers expecting a wage increase of 3.9 percent in 2019 and anticipating bonus and merit payouts 3.8 percent larger than the previous year.

“Given strong economic performance across many U.S. industries in 2018, employees hold much higher expectations for greater increases in wages and bonuses going into 2019,” Kropp said. “As companies approach compensation planning for next year, executives will need to factor in these employee expectations to remain competitive and to attract and retain talent, otherwise they risk losing their best workers to competitors.”

According to Kropp, Gartner’s data indicated that organizations with high levels of employee engagement have financial outcomes three times high than those with lower levels. To improve employee satisfaction, Gartner suggests employers should consider the following adjustments:

  • Establish strategies to better engage their current workforce while attracting new talent.
  • Deploy a robust employee value proposition (EVP) to distinguish themselves from the competition and address competitive wages, career development opportunities, work-life balance and workplace stability.

“To develop the strongest possible workforce, companies will need to focus on the attributes which propel their employment brand above the competition,” said Kropp. “Doing so can increase employee engagement levels, lower attrition rates, and offer what workers value most to retain and attract talent.”

The Global Talent Monitor's data is drawn from the larger Gartner Global Labor Market Survey, in which some 22,000 employees are interviewed in 40 countries. The survey is conducted quarterly and is reflective of market conditions during the quarter preceding publication.