February 24, 2017

Will 2017 Spur Your Employees to Seek New Opportunities?


We’re a couple of months into the new year, and many people have abandoned their resolutions already. However, there’s one resolution that might stick – and it’s one that employers should pay attention to.

According to a WorkSphere survey from Spherion Staffing, 62 percent of American workers are planning to make changes in their professional lives. While some of these people are looking to change jobs or careers, others want to improve their performance, earn more money, or start their own businesses.

“Although the new year is a common benchmark Americans use to hit refresh, 62 percent of those who have a resolution for 2017 to find a new job or career have considered doing so for more than a year, according to our survey,” says Sandy Mazur, division president for Spherion Staffing. “This year, the top three factors that have workers considering a career change include higher pay (56 percent), a desire to try something new (45 percent), and better work/life balance (44 percent).”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their reputation for job hopping, millennials are experiencing professional wanderlust at a rate of two-to-one.

“Millennials are most motivated to take on a new professional endeavor in the New Year; in fact, 22 percent plan to find a new job in 2017, compared with 11 percent of overall workers who plan to do the same,” Mazur says. “Nearly three-quarters of millennials who plan to start a new job or career in 2017 cite a salary increase as their primary influence.”

While employers should certainly keep an eye out for talented employees who show signs of jumping ship soon, the good news is that they don’t need to worry about mass employee restlessness. According to Mazur, “72 percent of workers who do not plan to find a new job or career in 2017 attribute their decision to being satisfied with their current work arrangement.”

Politics Raise New Concerns

In the 2016 election, the Republican Party gained not only the White House, but also majorities in both houses of Congress. This means the economic climate of the U.S. is likely to change dramatically from the standards of the past eight years. Employees are not unfazed by this: 20 percent of WorkSphere respondents said the election impacted their professional plans for 2017.

“For many Americans, a top concern any time a new president is elected is the economy and how potentially changing policies will influence business operations,” Mazur says.

A third of the workers surveyed said they were more worried about the economy and its impact on their careers than they were this time last year.

plane“This sentiment may be attributable to workers’ outlook on the incoming president’s economic platform, or it may be a byproduct of the general uncertainty that typically comes with any major change in government,” Mazur says. “As a result, some workers who may be interested in changing jobs or careers could potentially wait and see what happens in Washington before making any serious moves.”

Despite the uncertainties surround the current political situation, many workers remain optimistic about the future of the workplace. Spherion found that 60 percent of workers feel their jobs will still be relevant in five years. Another 22 percent of workers said they were interested in pursuing a second job or starting a side business, which Mazur says is a sign of “confidence for the future.”

Scratching the New Year Itch

To get in front of employees who may do something drastic as they try to scratch their new year itch, executives need to be prepared to meet the demands of their workforces.

“Making more money (28 percent), taking more vacation time (19 percent), and improved work/life balance (19 percent) are among the top career-related resolutions for 2017, so employers may consider reevaluating their most valuable employees’ compensation structures, tweaking vacation policies or modifying the culture around taking vacation, and offering more flexible schedules to help employees achieve more balance in their work and personal lives,” Mazur says.

When asked about their overall resolutions, workers indicated that exercising more (55 percent), eating healthier (54 percent), and traveling more (34 percent) were also top priorities for 2017.

“[These] are areas employers might consider folding into the workplace,” Mazur says. “Employers should consider offering options that meet these goals, such as a wellness program or sabbatical programs that allow extended time off for travel.”

There are many ways to engage employees to improve retention, and every business must find out what its workforce wants. Whatever a company decides, the sure bet is that doing nothing will empower workers to chase those new year dreams – possibly to your organization’s detriment.

Read more in Career Change

Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.