Poll: Workers Ready To Walk; New Breed Looking For New Perks

August 29, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Poor employment outlook or not, the majority of American workers are ready to leave their jobs for new opportunities as a new class of workers begins to evolve.

More than half (52%) of American workers polled recently said they are ready to change jobs, with 46% – not wanting to waste any time – looking to make a move in the next six months. Further, even with reports of a somewhat shaky job market out there, most (54%) indicate their confidence in earning a stable income outside the conventional work structure is growing, according to a study conducted by Harris Interacting for Spherion Corporation.

These so called “emergent workers” are starting a trend toward more priority in the work/life balance – cited by 86% as their numero uno career priority, versus only 35% that listed moving up the corporate ladder. As a result, organizations could be saddled with turnover costs estimated at $50,000 per departing employee or as much as $590 billion in a two-year period, the study estimates.

Among the headway being made by the emergent workers – which comprise 31% of the workforce – is the push toward more “non-traditional” workplace perks and is evident in the 73% of all workers who are willing to curtail their careers to make time for family. Further, the report found that nearly half of the US workforce is now classified as migrating from a traditional mindset to an emergent mindset. By 2007, the emergent population likely will represent more than half of the US workforce, with a traditional workforce of only 8%, compared with 21% currently.

In fact, nearly all of the 3,200 workers canvassed (96%) are attracted to employers who offer ways for them to make time for personal responsibilities and personal development. This includes perks such as flextime, job sharing and telecommuting, even though most employees do not currently work for employers that offer such work/life balance options.

“Organizations that continue to be defined as traditional businesses will be recruiting from a shrinking workforce and may suffer 40% more employee turnover among emergent workers as compared to ’emergently managed’ organizations,” said Robert Morgan, president of Spherion employment solutions. “It is crucial that employers carefully assess their recruitment, retention and HR policies and programs to determine if they match the needs and aspirations of the existing workforce and the workers they want to attract. If employers fail to do so, they could be faced with a potential crisis when the economy rebounds and the scramble for talent resumes.”