The Last Word: Nearly a Quarter of Your Workforce Would Leave For Just a 10% Raise

How much of a raise would it take for you to switch jobs?

According to one new survey, not very much.

I get lots and lots of surveys and research sent to me, and to be honest, most of them are digging into deadly dull topics that don’t generate much meaningful or interesting results.

This is about a survey that did have some noteworthy, revealing findings to it, and it comes from TINYpulse, a company that publishes weekly engagement surveys and says it’s “goal is to give leaders a pulse on how engaged or frustrated their employees are, helping managers spark dialogue that results in organizational change.”

It won’t take much to lure your employees away

Here’s what they asked: “How likely would you be to leave for a 10 percent raise?” The answer? Almost a quarter of the workers surveyed (23 percent) said they would.

Or to put it more directly, a quarter of your employees are willing to jump ship and take another job for a mere 10 percent bump in pay.

Given all that we hear about the terrible state of employee engagement today, this is the best indicator that I’ve seen that confirms that employee engagement is pretty much in the toilet for a good chunk of America’s workforce.

Of course, the “why” behind this question is pretty important, the Tinypulse team dug into this high willingness for employees to leave. Here are some of the reasons, and responses from respondents, that may better explain “why.”

  • Life circumstances — “Due to my current financial situation, I would have to seriously consider it. I struggle living paycheck to paycheck even with overtime pay. Honestly, I don’t see the possibility of getting a 10 percent raise with this company.
  • Lack of appreciation“I would leave not just for the raise but for just positive feedback from supervisors. It seems that some supervisors feel that they need to point out everything wrong but do not balance it with what you accomplish. So all the hard work seems for naught.”
  • Lack of professional growth“I personally find the ceiling low and the path of where it’s going and how to get to that next level is and has been unclear. For the right opportunity with matching or close enough benefits, I would have to do what I felt was in my best interest.”
  • Lack of competitive salaries — “Based on what I’ve heard from employees at competitors/other companies in the space, they are making significantly more with additional perks. It’s hard not to listen to those types of comments.”

Lack of growth opportunities a big problem, too

I don’t know what it is going to take for business executives to wake up and hear the alarm going off, but survey numbers like this should frighten them if they care at all about keeping their workforce intact and moving ahead. It’s hard to keep growing and progressing if you’re churning employees, and as the TINYpulse survey suggests, it wouldn’t take much for a good chunk of  your workforce to head for the door.

As the TINYpulse analysis noted:

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We know it’s impossible to change an employee’s personal life, and sometimes it can be tough to match competitor wages. But appreciation and professional opportunities? Those are free to offer around, and companies are foolish to hold back and lose valuable employees.”

The “growth opportunities” issue is an important one, because the survey drilled into this and found that only 25 percent of those surveyed felt they had professional growth opportunities, meaning that a whopping 75 percent — yes, three out of four employees — felt they didn’t have any chance of growing in their current job.

The analysis said this finding was “remarkable,” and it certainly is, but when they broke down why 75 percent of all employees see lackluster opportunities (or no opportunities), three main culprits jumped out:

  1. Employees feel too siloed and/or they are not given new projects.
  2. There is no open discussion of career opportunities.
  3. They have background experience and skills that are not being utilized.

Business executives need to wake up and pay attention

Add into this that the TINYpulse 2015 Employee Engagement & Organizational Culture Report found that only 31 percent of employees feel strongly valued, and you can clearly see some of the critical factors leading to such a disengaged and ready-to-run workforce.

The survey analysis concluded with this piece of advice, and although it’s more of a call to action, it is clearly what executives need to do if they want to keep their employees and help them to be happier, more engaged, and most importantly, more productive:

You want happy employees, right? You want engaged employees, right? And you want retained employees, right? If you answered “yes” to all of these, then it’s time to get the ball rolling and make the organizational changes needed to build a world-class workplace.”

TINYpulse surveyed 400,000 employees from August 2014 to August 2015 for this study. “Many responses were to the recurring happiness question, which were averaged together employee by employee. These happiness averages were used in Pearson correlations with the remaining 1-10 Likert scale questions to determine the strongest drivers of employee happiness. Percentages were also taken of those that responded with 9 or 10 to these Likert questions. ”

Of course, there’s more than employees ready to bolt in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly wrap-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • How to casually lay off dozensNewsweek (yes, they’re still around but only in online form) had a great article this week titled How to Casually Lay Off Dozens of Employees: A Guide, and it is pegged to all the recent layoffs at National Geographic, ESPN, and elsewhere. Of course, it’s very tongue-in-cheek and mocks how all of these usually go. My favorite points? No. 1 is “Brag that you’re going to avoid corporate jargon,” immediately followed at No. 2 by “Fill the rest of your memo with corporate jargon.” It’s fun read, but sadly, all too true in so many cases.
  • Why HR belongs in the C-suite — Lynda Spiegel, founder of the career coaching service Rising Star Resumes, spent 15 years as a HR pro and recently wrote a post for The Wall Street Journal’s The Experts blog making the case for HR to have that long-coveted “seat at the table.” She wrote, “CHROs belong in the C-suite not only for their role in managing companies’ critical asset — its talent — but also because they make the C-suite team more effective. They help focus the team as a cohesive unit and by doing so, support the CEO’s mission and with their skills in organizational psychology, can arguably better manage meeting dynamics when things get rocky.”
  • Is there such a thing as work-life balance? My friend Cindy Krischer Goodman, the workplace columnist for The Miami Herald, says there is, but she keeps bumping into people like Maryam Banikarim, global chief marketing officer of  Hyatt Hotels, who don’t believe in it. She quotes her as saying, “I don’t believe in work life balanceI think we juggle lots of different things, and make different tradeoffs at different times in our lives so we never really have balance.” Balance implies there is an equilibrium, she told me. “At different times something gives. I recognize family is important, but there are moments when I make a different decision because something is urgent at work.”
  • A failure to fess up at Lee Hecht Harrison — TLNT contributor Laurie Ruettimann just briefly mentioned this on her blog, and it’s a link to a blog post by Nick Corcodilos on his run-in with outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison. The title is A Failure of Integrity in the HR World, and it’s worth a read. I had always questioned the value of the services Lee Hecht Harrison offers, but after reading this, I question the value and integrity of the company itself. As Laurie writes, “Crooks, liars or fools? You pick.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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