One-fifth of workforce looking for new job

What are they looking for? Meaningful work, compensation and perks, manager support: survey

One-fifth of workforce looking for new job
More frequent check-ins from managers can lead to improved engagement, finds a survey. Shutterstock

By Sarah Dobson

Overall, about one in five (21 per cent) of workers are looking for a new job. And the greatest flight risk is for those in IT, finds a survey by Workhuman.

One-third (34 per cent) of workers in that sector are looking for a new job, compared to biotech, consumer goods and services, technology and telecom (each 28 per cent), industrial (25 per cent), engineering (24 per cent), financial and business services (23 per cent), insurance and retail (both 22 per cent) and health care (19 per cent).

And what are they looking for exactly? Meaningful work ranks as most important across all age groups, finds the survey of more than 3,500 full-time workers in Canada, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Compensation and perks come in second, especially for those aged 35 to 64, followed by a supportive manager, positive company culture and fun team (especially among those 18 to 34).

People are looking at work in a different way, says Sarah Hamilton, director of HR at Workhuman in Framingham, Mass., provider of cloud-based human capital management software solutions.

“The world of work has changed so tremendously, where we've gone from this industrial era — where it was all about employees coming to work, and getting a paycheck, and almost like cogs on a wheel — to the human era, which is what it is today, which is we are looking at employees for their holistic skills and what they bring to the table.”

It’s not just about what people can do but what’s in their hearts and minds, she says.

“The industrial era is over and it is now the human era. And the human era is really based on this notion of people being able to expect more from out of the workplace.”

That means employees expect their employers to provide a place where they can do their best work and they can show all of the skills and ways they can contribute, says Hamilton.

“But, also, it's employers expecting employees to bring their best selves to work as well. This leads to a mutually beneficial culture and business results. Because companies are appreciating the employees more for just ... a butt in a seat which is the way companies had once looked at it before.”

Flexibility, recognition popular perks

As for workplace perks, remote or flexible work (41 per cent) and health-care coverage (27 per cent) are the most popular, followed by an employee recognition program (seven per cent), free food (six per cent), an office gym (six per cent), on-the-job training (four per cent) and referral bonuses (four per cent), found Workhuman.

Flexible work is important to all generations, as older workers may be caring for elderly parents, she says, while younger workers, who have grown up with newer technology, want the freedom that brings.

“But I think you're actually seeing it broaden across all groups more so than you would have.”

And younger workers have had a bad rap when it comes to recognition, says Hamilton.

“Everyone always looks at the millennials and says, ‘Oh millennials, they always need to know they're doing a good job’ or ‘They always want to be patted on the back for doing work.’ And it's actually a fundamental physiological need that's in every single one of us, which is to feel appreciation, to feel recognition, to feel that you're doing a good job.”

Frequent recognition is also associated with higher gratitude levels and lower stress levels, finds the survey.

And recognition can make a difference, she says, citing a hospital using the Workhuman platform that saw an increase in the positivity, recognition and appreciation for staff “actually yielded higher patient satisfaction scores… so this is field business data, and it is it is fundamental to the notion of gratitude in the workplace.”

Changing performance reviews to check-ins

On the performance management side, the number of companies conducting annual or semiannual reviews has fallen from 82 per cent in 2018 to 54 per cent in 2019, finds the survey.

More than half of workers (53 per cent) say the reviews are not indicative of all the work they do, and 55 per cent say they do not improve performance.

The problem? These infrequent reviews provide a perspective of one point in time, says Hamilton.

“And managers and employees are expected to go way back in time, think of all the things, all of the touchpoints and all of the moments that have happened — but that's not realistic to how work is done.”

At the same time, more frequent check-ins can lead to improved engagement, says Workhuman, as workers who check in with their manager at least weekly are more than twice as likely to trust their manager, nearly twice as likely to respect their manager, and five times less likely to be disengaged.

“When you couple that with the peer-to-peer, like the gratitude and the recognition, and then the feedback along the way, it’s full circle of how the work is getting done — you're setting goals, you're checking in on those goals, you're getting recognized throughout that process, and then you're getting feedback on how things are moving forward. So, it's actually a very natural way of working. And it's just the new way of working, as opposed to just going off and expecting that your team is not going to hear from you, and only having a performance conversation or real formal conversation once a year,” she says.

Workers cited “Show more appreciation” as the top action they’d like their manager to take (31 per cent) followed by “Focus more on my career growth” (19 per cent), “Give me more independence: (15 per cent), “Focus  more on my learning and development” (14 per cent) and “Have more frequent one-on-ones and check-ins” (eight per cent).

The world of work has changed, says Hamilton.

“[In the past], there are people that would have stayed at a job for 35 years, doing the same job. And I think the world has become less tolerant of that, because there's so much opportunity now. And I think people have a voice and are realizing... people bring so much more to the table today, and companies are realizing they can actually bring that to life.”

There’s much more room for growth and opportunity now, she says, “because we're looking at the more holistic human.”

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