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Will Amazon HQ2 Truly Be a Talent Magnet?

A just-released study suggests many metro D.C. employees may be ready to switch jobs.
By: | January 11, 2019 • 2 min read

There’s been much speculation regarding how Amazon’s well-publicized decision to open a split HQ2 would impact the jobs market in the communities it ultimately selected, namely Long Island City, N.Y., and Arlington (Crystal City), Va. Indeed, the debate over what HQ2 would mean for other employers in the selected vicinity (or as it turned out, vicinities) began soon after Amazon announced its search.

In time, as Amazon gradually begins to hire employees, we’ll have a much better idea as to the talent implications for those metro areas. But thanks to a recent survey conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting, we now have some insight into the potential impact, at least for the D.C. metro area.

In its study, titled Should I Stay or Should I Go? D.C. Metro Area Workforce Considers Whether They Should Work for Amazon, Eagle Hill found that half (51 percent) of the 1,007 D.C. metro area workers surveyed would consider leaving their current jobs to work for Amazon, with the percentage higher for millennials (60 percent).

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For IT workers, the percentage was even higher: 71 percent.

As to what would compel them to leave, the research found that a better salary topped the list (71 percent of those who said they would leave), followed by securing more interesting work (45 percent) and working for a progressive company (45 percent).

Among those who were not interested in pursuing an opportunity at Amazon, the top three reasons they cited were being happy with the work they did (52 percent), being happy at their current job (45 percent) and the fact that they worked for a good organization (38 percent).

Eagle Hill President and CEO Melissa Jezior says she wasn’t surprised by the overall findings, but was surprised by the high percentages. “Nearly three-fourths of IT workers was a much bigger number than I ever would have predicted,” she says.

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Jezior believes the research should sound a loud alarm for employers. Combined with today’s tight labor market, she says, the findings underscore the need for employers to take some kind of action sooner rather than later.

By taking some kind of action, Jezior means taking the time to understand why employees are either happy or unhappy. “Employers that do that, and deliver what their employees need, are going to be in the best position to hold on to their star talent,” she says.

Given the current government shutdown, Jezior adds, that urgency may be even more pronounced for D.C.-area employers. “It’s led to a whole lot of people just sitting around at home who are anxious about their paychecks and could very well be updating their resumes to submit to Amazon as we speak,” she says.

David Shadovitz is editor emeritus and former editor and co-publisher for HRE.

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