Survey Finds Continued Worker Discontent

Jan 24, 2019

By AMA Staff

For the fourth year in a row, most workers are expressing their intention to seek new employment elsewhere, according to a new poll of more than 700 U.S. employees by Right Management, the talent and career management expert within ManpowerGroup.

Eighty-six percent of the employees polled said they plan to actively look for a new position in 2013; another 8% said they may do so and are already networking. Only 5% intend to stay in their current position, according to the survey. The new findings are remarkably similar to those of the past two years.

“At a minimum, the survey findings are a sign of considerable job dissatisfaction throughout North America,” said Owen J. Sullivan, Right Management CEO and president of ManpowerGroup Specialty Brands. “The constant drumbeat of downsizing coupled with the expectation to do more with less has put an added amount of stress on workers.  Ongoing economic uncertainty and volatility around job growth and job security have warranted the exploration of new positions. This kind of frustration may not be unusual, even in a strong job market. But the levels of discontent we’re now finding have to be without precedent.”

Sullivan explained that the survey findings should be seen as a way to gauge worker satisfaction as well as job commitment…a barometer of sorts. “Now that we have a few years of consistent longitudinal data, we’re confident that our data are reliable. What we’re finding is what behavioral psychologists call ‘flight cognition,’ a wish to depart a situation, not necessarily an indicator of actual employee turnover. Nevertheless, when more than four-out-of- five workers seem so unhappy, it ought to concern top management.”

The findings may also be a reflection of what Sullivan regards as the continuous job hunt. “With so many job boards and constant social networking, workers appear to have convinced themselves that they’re truly job hunting when all they’re doing is cruising the Internet.  The Internet job boards are sort of like window shopping, something to do during a down moment. A real job search, which is a much more serious proposition, requires a deliberate and concerted effort to make a change. However, the constant access and push and pull of the Internet and job boards make it easier to shift a window shopper into a buyer.”

Sullivan advises management to be proactive when it comes to retaining top performers, who may be the first to get competitive job offers as the economy strengthens. “Don’t wait. Have open and transparent conversations about the realities of the business to allay any fears and uncertainties.”

Right Management surveyed 760 employees in the U.S. and Canada via an online poll that ran from October 15 to November 15, 2012.

About the Author(s)

AMA Staff American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.