Third of American workers expect to quit this year

2008

A third of American workers say they will only "probably" still be with their employer by the end of the year, highlighting the deep unhappiness felt by many at what they perceive to be the lack of opportunities offered to them by their managers.

The poll of 3,300 North American workers by consultancy BlessingWhite found that a general disquiet over a lack of opportunities to grow or advance in their job was the main reason why people jumped ship.

A desire for change or to try something new, a dislike of what they were doing, a sense of their talent not being used to the full and a simple desire to earn more money were other key factors, each cited by 14 per cent of those polled.

Lower down the scale, but still significant, was physical job conditions, such as work flexibility, length of commute and so on, which was an issue for a tenth of the sample.

A total of 9 per cent said they would move specifically because they disliked their manager, while 5 per cent said their organisation's mission conflicted with their personal views.

A sense that there were better jobs elsewhere in the economy was the motivating factor for 3 per cent, while a visceral dislike of colleagues around the office accounted for two per cent.

Conversely, liking what they did was the main reason why people stayed in a job, BlessingWhite found, with more than a third – 34 per cent – putting this top of their list.

In almost a mirror image to the reasons for leaving, being offered "significant development or advancement opportunities" prompted 15 per cent to stay put.

Flexible hours and a good commute were retention factors for 14 per cent, and believing in the organisation's mission was important for just under a tenth.

A similar 9 per cent cited simply idleness or the fact they had no desire for a change of scenery, while 7 per cent said their salary or bonus was what kept them in situ.

Just 4 per cent stuck with their job because they felt committed to their manager, a similar percentage that stayed put because of lack of other opportunities in the wider economy. And just 3% said their colleagues were what kept them in their job.

"These ambivalent employees, who are a major segment of every workforce, are essentially opportunistic," said BlessingWhite chief executive Christopher Rice.

"They want to pursue their interests and goals but aren't dissatisfied enough to take action. From a practical standpoint, employees can often satisfy their need for career growth, change or better use of their talents with a current employer, but it's not always obvious to them how they might do so," he added.

Managers had a pivotal role in changing these workers' perceptions and keeping them on board, he stressed.

"This group is not engaged or performing at a maximum level of contribution. This is where the manager comes in, the person who is in the right position to influence the performance and satisfaction of employees," he said.

"The manager needs to have conversations to help people get what they need and to get aligned with what the organisation needs from them," he concluded.

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