Workers around the world now hold more leverage in the global job market, with two-fifths (43%) of respondents saying they are likely to quit in the next 12 months – driven mostly by a desire for higher total pay, better career opportunities and flexibility amid rising inflation, a shrinking labor market and an increase in jobs offering flexible working – according to the EY 2022 Work Reimagined Survey.
The survey encompassed the views of more than 1,500 business leaders and more than 17,000 employees across 22 countries and 26 industry sectors. It shows that, as many countries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have gained significant influence over their management and that their “wish list” from potential companies is changing.
The main motivation for workers seeking new jobs, according to the survey, is now a desire for higher pay. With record inflation, in many countries around the world, more than a third of those searching for new roles (35%) say that a salary increase is their main objective, and 25% say they are looking for career growth. Forty-two percent of workers surveyed say that pay increases are the key to addressing staff turnover – but only 18% of managers agree.
Flexible working arrangements – which were by far the biggest factors leading to worker moves according to last year’s survey – are now less of a driver given that most are already working for companies that offer flexibility in some form. Only 19% are seeking remote-work flexibility from a new job, while 17% say that well-being programs would prompt them to move.
Looking at the various age groups across the countries surveyed, Gen Z employees and millennials in the US are the most likely to quit their jobs this year (53%), while across the sectors, it is those with technology and hardware jobs (60%) that are most eager to leave.
“This latest survey shows that employees around the world are feeling empowered to leave jobs if their expectations are not met,” says Liz Fealy, EY Global People Advisory Services Deputy Leader. “As employers have increasingly provided flexible work approaches, higher pay is now the biggest motivation for changing jobs, particularly given rising inflation and available unfilled roles.”
Interestingly, the desire amongst workers to seek out new roles persists even though they hold relatively upbeat views about company culture. The number of workers who believe their organization’s culture has improved, has risen from 48% to 61% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, leadership confidence in their own company culture has dropped from 77% to 57%. Additionally, while workers believe new ways of working have increased productivity, companies’ confidence in their own productivity is being eroded by increased turnover.
Fifty-eight percent of leadership respondents agree it is important to have a strategy in place to match talent and skills to future business needs; and 74% say that they are prepared to hire workers from other countries and allow them to work from anywhere if their skills are critical or scarce. Slightly more than a fifth of management respondents (21%) believe improving opportunities to build skills will help address turnover.
Despite the continuing shift towards flexible working models, 22% of leadership respondents say they want workers to come back to the office five days a week. Although reluctance to work remotely among workers has fallen (from 34% to 20%) most workers (80%) say they want to work remotely at least two days per week.
The survey reveals that a large population of “optimist” senior leaders (32%) are managing to improve both culture and productivity. It shows that they are achieving this by ensuring that their leaders have a shared understanding of company issues, external practices and strategies (94%). Other factors cited by this group of businesses as drivers of their success include hybrid work (90%), investing in on-site amenities (39%), enhancing workplace technology (45%) and giving workers more empowerment and autonomy (44%). By way of contrast, other businesses are continuing to watch and wait, or are only taking selective action.
“We are seeing a top third of companies successfully navigating these divergent positions on pay, career opportunities and flexibility. They have moved from ‘resistance’ to ‘renaissance’ and that’s a win-win for their companies and their workforce,” says Roselyn Feinsod, EY Work Reimagined Leader. “Organizations have to work to retain their employees, instill trust and provide a package that takes into account total pay, career path and flexibility to balance market concerns and risks.”