Grant Thornton LLP, one of America’s largest audit, tax, and advisory firms, has released a survey exploring the latest trends in employee attitudes and the desires of more than 5,000 full-time employees of U.S. companies. The latest Grant Thornton State of Work in America survey provides valuable insights from a consulting perspective: It gives a clear view of the current landscape in “the Great Resignation.”
The new findings highlight what employees most covet and how organizations can retain their people. Ultimately, the data provided in this survey can help companies optimize their benefits, which is exactly what Grant Thornton’s Human Capital Services (HCS) consultants do.
Grant Thornton’s survey offers a wealth of information regarding the current employment climate.
For instance, 29% of full-time employees are actively looking for a new job at a different company. Although that figure is down from 33% in last year’s survey, this may be due to the fact that 21% of people switched jobs in the last 12 months.
Moreover, more than half (51%) of employees are not actively looking for a new job but would consider a switch should the opportunity arise. And fully 58% of employees who earn an annual salary of $100,000 or more would consider that switch.
A total of 68.9 million workers left their jobs in 2021, with nearly 70% doing so voluntarily — a one-year record.
The top reasons workers switched jobs were base pay, work-life balance, opportunities for advancement, benefits, and greater autonomy. 60% of the respondents who recently took new jobs had two or more competing offers.
According to the survey, the vast majority (80%) of respondents said they want flexibility in when and where they work.
“Flexibility in where you work, and sometimes when you work, is no longer viewed as an extra benefit,” said Angela Nalwa, a Managing Director and HR Transformation Practice Leader at Grant Thornton. “In fact, flexibility is now a minimum requirement as job-seekers look for their next career opportunity. The companies who insist on a mandatory return-to-office for all employees must find a differentiator that separates their organization from the pack.”
The survey also reveals the top five drivers of stress affecting U.S. employees.
43% of those surveyed cited personal debt as their greatest stressor, while 22% cited mental health. The next four most common stressors after personal debt were, in order, medical issues, mental health, daily inconveniences such as a long to-do list, and work-life balance.
“Most benefits plans only address two of the top five stressors: medical issues and ability to retire,” said Tim Glowa, a Principal and leader of Grant Thornton’s employee listening and HCS offerings. “The goal for companies should be to create a total rewards program that is meaningful to employees, that addresses their particular drivers of stress, and that differentiates a company from its competitors.”
Employers must identify what their people care about, then address it. For instance, 77% of respondents said they were either “likely” or “extremely likely” to stay with their organization if it took away their top-ranked stressor.
While this last figure and the slowing rate of resignations may be encouraging for employers, employees are still aware of the power they have. Many are just waiting for the right opportunity.
For example, 71% of those surveyed who said they have a great manager, believe their voice is heard at work, and have a strong work-life balance are actively looking for a new job. 65% of the respondents in this particular group are millennials, 65% are male, 62% have been with their company between three and nine years, 82% serve in customer-facing roles, and 60% earn an annual salary of $100,000+.
Glowa likens this group to a “sleeping giant” that may be a harbinger of a sea change in the ongoing war for talent. “We may be entering a new phase of the war for talent, but employers must remain vigilant,” he concluded. “If you don’t have full, unimpeachable knowledge of what your employees truly value, it’s past time to find out.”