Deloitte Survey: Two Out of Three Workers Actively Looking for New Job

Wasn’t it the famous philosopher and reality star Meat Loaf who once famously sang, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad?

Meat Loaf and his two out of three comment come to mind when you consider a new survey by global consultant Deloitte this week found that with the economy improving, nearly two out of three employees at large companies are actively looking for a new job.

Yes, two out of three ain’t bad — unless you’re talking about how many of your workers are looking to walk out the door.

The study, titled Talent Edge 2020: Building the Recovery Together — What Talent Expects and How Leaders Are Responding,” found that not only are 65 percent of the employees surveyed actively testing the job market, but that “dissatisfied employees are transparent” with their executives and managers about “the most effective employee retention strategies” their companies could utilize to keep them.

Generational job issues

When asked to list their top three retention incentives, 53 percent of respondents ranked promotion/job advancement first, followed by increased compensation (39 percent), and additional bonuses or other financial incentives (34 percent). Another 30 percent of those surveyed listed boosting employee support/recognition from their managers, a non-financial incentive, as an effective retention tactic.

“We’re living in a world where each generation in the workforce has vastly different goals, expectations, and desires,” said Jeff Schwartz, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. Talent Services leader, in a press release about the survey. “As employees eye the exit signs following a hard hitting recession, employers need to tailor and target their talent strategies to satisfy each employee group from baby boomers to Millennials.”

There were other interesting findings in the report, including this breakdown by generations:

  • Baby boomers, among all workforce generations surveyed, expressed the strongest discontent with their employers and the greatest frustration that their loyalty and hard work has been neither recognized nor rewarded. Almost one-third (32 percent) of baby boomers surveyed say a lack of trust in leadership is a top turnover trigger — the highest ranking by any workforce generation.
  • Generation X employees are clearly the group most likely to be looking at exit strategies from their current jobs. Citing lack of career progress as a top exit trigger (65 percent), only 28 percent of Gen X employees surveyed expect to stay with their current employers — a clear signal to employers to expect a significant exodus by employees viewed future leaders.
  • Millennials exhibit a sharply different view of a strong corporate culture, as compared to other generations. By a more than 2-1 ratio (32 percent to 13 percent), Millennials regard their employers’ commitment to “corporate responsibility/volunteerism” to be very important, as compared to baby boomers. Millennials are also nearly three times more likely to say a “fun work environment” is important compared to baby boomers (55 percent to 19 percent).
  • Employees who plan to stay with their current employers (35 percent) say their companies have strong talent programs, characterized by clear career paths, leadership development initiatives, trust and confidence in corporate leadership, superior programs to retain top talent, and effective communication.

How do you keep employees from walking?

Talent Edge 2020: Building the Recovery Together — What Talent Expects and How Leaders Are Responding” is part of Deloitte’s survey series conducted with Forbes Insights. The survey was taken by 356 employees at large companies with annual sales exceeding $500 million, with more than three in four respondents at companies with more than $1 billion in annual sales.

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This latest survey from Deloitte leaves me feeling a little bit like the Bill Murray character in the film Groundhog Day — don’t I keep writing this same thing over and over again? Whether it be that 74% of Passive Job Seekers Are Ready to Make a Move or that Only 1 in 3 Employees Say They Are Engaged in Their Job, one thing is certain: survey after survey keeps coming back and saying that workers today are ready to get up and get out of their current job.

It’s the expected fallout from the way so many companies treated their workforce during the recession — you know, the “shut up and be happy you have a job” management approach — and as a lot of us predicted, the reaction to that terribly foolish and short-sighted philosophy is finally coming back to bite businesses big time.

There IS a way out however, because Deloitte’s analysis of this latest survey data points to “clear and actionable strategies employers can implement to deliver leading talent programs and keep top talent committed to their jobs, excited about their career prospects, and confident in their corporate leadership.”

As Deloitte’s Jeff Schwartz says, “Firms can separate themselves from their competitors if they step up their talent programs now and refine their strategies to engage workers and to focus on specific employee needs.”

He’s right, of course. The only question is, do companies out there care enough about retaining their talent to listen and perhaps do what is necessary to keep them engaged and on board?

John Hollon is managing editor of Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. He's also the former founding editor of TLNT and a frequent contributor to ERE and the Fistful of Talent blog.