Half of American execs unhappy with their lot

2007

Nearly half of American executives are unhappy with their lot and preparing to quit within the year, a new survey has claimed. And with firms competing hard for top talent, they won't have to look far in the search for pastures new.

A study by recruitment firm ExecuNet found job satisfaction levels among America's top managers were "dangerously low", with many organisations simply unable to keep their management teams intact.

The poll of 2,149 executives, all with an average salary of $221,000, found that nearly half – 48 per cent – were either not satisfied or "somewhat unsatisfied" with their current job.

Ominously for corporate America, among those who were unhappy, more than half were preparing to leave their company within the next 12 months.

"Given the pace at which companies are hiring executive-level talent this year, disgruntled executives won't have to look far in search of greener pastures," said ExecuNet chief executive Dave Opton.

HR professionals, with just over two thirds satisfied, were the happiest of the executives polled, followed by chief finance officers or comptrollers (63 per cent).

But satisfaction ratings plunged when it came to general managers, (47 per cent), with marketing and sales professionals all increasingly disgruntled, and IT managers, at just 41 per cent, the most unhappy of the lot.

"A very tight employment market has many companies focused on talent management and its role in shaping the firm's future," pointed out Opton.

"In addition to presenting new challenges, this trend has provided human resource executives with increased access to resources and a louder voice in the organisation, which have clearly improved job satisfaction levels for these professionals.

"On the other end of the spectrum, many IT executives continue to find themselves struggling to gain the proverbial seat at the table," he added.

Topping the reasons why executives were unhappy with their current job were limited opportunities for advancement and a lack of challenge or personal growth (both 13 per cent).

After this came differences with culture and bosses not being a good match (both a tenth of those polled), with lack of adequate compensation cited by 9 per cent.

"While executive compensation continues to grab headlines, there are a host of other issues creating retention problems across Corporate America," said Opton.

"To be effective, initiatives designed to lower turnover at this level must take into account the drive and ambition that fuel the development of most executives," he added.

A simultaneous poll of 121 HR executives by the firm also found that more than three quarters were concerned about retention and two thirds believed their company was working harder to retain executive talent than a year ago.

However, just a third of the employed executives agreed this was the case, said ExecuNet.

More than a third of the HR executives did not expect their company's current leadership team to be in place in a year's time, and nearly three out of four believed that the war for executive talent had grown more intense in the past 12 months.