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Jan 20, 2016, the biggest job site in the world, commissioned an end-of-year study showing that more than 50 percent of U.S. workers are thinking of making a career change in 2016.

Some of the chief motivators were:

  • A better work location;
  • A higher position/title; and,
  • The biggest motivator was salary, with 79 percent of respondents listing it as a top concern. also reported a 43 percent surge in job searches in the first half of January. The New Year seems to be bringing new possibilities, and it could cause retention headaches for employers just getting back on their feet as the economy recovers fully from the last financial crisis.

Motivated to find new work

But now that we mention it — how is that recovery going?

It all depends on who you ask, and how you ask it.

Even though the unemployment rate is back down to a respectable 5 percent, we are still struggling with economic disparity. A record-low opening day on Wall Street and a fickle Chinese economy had many people raising alarms at the beginning of the year.

Also, wage increases are forecasting lower for 2016 – salary budgets are projected to increase by only 2.7 percent, down from 2.9 percent last year. These factors in combination with a strengthening job market may be getting people a little more motivated to find new work.

Motivators of the brain drain

So what does it all mean?

You can probably guess – make retention a chief strategy for 2016 if it isn’t already. Granted this is easy to say but difficult to do, but tackling the chief motivators for the next brain drain is the first logical step.

Let’s take a look:

  • Salary – However delicate a subject it may be, salary is the No. 1 motivator according to’s survey of job-hoppers, so it needs due diligence. The simplest solution is to do a salary audit and find out where your biggest disparities lie, and if possible, fix them. Make counter-offers to keep high performers. But don’t simply throw cash around, find out where you stand in the market to make sensible offers, and review your non-monetary compensation efforts to see if you can sweeten the employment deal any further in other areas.
  • Higher position/title – The next time you need to fill a key management or C-suite position, first look around your own organization and see if it’s possible to promote from within. Outside resumes chock-full of buzzwords and bullet points are seductive, but can never really replace the long-term institutional knowledge and pre-existing workplace rapport from your most dedicated workers. There may not be a promotion for everyone, but the idea is to better engage the workers you have while taking some of the pressure off HR.
  • Better location – You may not be able to move your office to a different location, but have you considered a remote workforce? For some lines of work and smaller organizations it makes perfect sense. Ask yourself if there are any jobs in your office that wouldn’t be adversely affected by being performed remotely, and offer the option to those employees. You not only save them a bit of time and money; the entire “better location” argument goes off the table if the employee is free to work from anywhere.

Success in the new Millennium

It seems 2016 will not be without its own human capital challenges, which continue to escalate as we approach a singularity of technology and work.

Employers are having to adapt more quickly in a world that keeps moving faster and faster. Having a clear, data-driven strategy is crucial to success in the new Millennium.

We are firmly in the “Era of the Empowered Employee,” and as uncertain as so many things have been over the last eight years, you can hardly blame them for trying to get a leg up.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.