‘Astounding’ number of workers looking for new jobs; What’s HR’s move?

Evidence of the “Great Resignation” is picking up steam–and burnout is largely to blame.

Claire Barnes

New data finds a whopping 95% of workers say they are considering changing jobs, according to data recently released by job search company Monster, which surveyed 649 workers in June. Meanwhile, 92% say they are willing to switch industries to do so.

“As the head of HR, results such as these are astounding and eye-opening,” says Claire Barnes, chief human capital officer, Monster Worldwide, and global HR lead. “Yet, as much as it indicates a desire for change or new opportunities, it also signals a level of candidate confidence that fell during the pandemic and is coming back very strong.” The Monster data reveals that 66% of workers think there are job opportunities available to them.

The main culprit for interest in leaving current jobs? Burnout. The Monster survey reveals that burnout is the biggest factor driving a job change (cited by 32% of respondents). That’s in line with other findings: Research from Limeade, for instance, found that employee burnout has soared as a result of COVID-19. When the software company surveyed employees just months before the pandemic began, it found that 42% of workers were burned out. When Limeade asked employees about burnout again, a few months into COVID-19, that number had shot up to 72%.

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Many experts say workers are close to their breaking point after a year of heightened stress, long hours, heavier workloads and little to no time off.

Related: Mailchimp’s burnout strategy? Collective PTO, summer hours

The Monster data comes in the midst of various other research that indicates employers are struggling to retain and attract workers in a hot job market. Employees are leaving, or considering leaving, their jobs at a rapid pace, and many employers are struggling to find workers to fill positions. FlexJobs data finds 58% of workers say they would “absolutely” look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working remotely in their current position. And recent research from talent solutions firm Robert Half finds that 95% of senior managers find it challenging to source skilled professionals.

Regardless of how dire the situation is, employers undoubtedly should be thinking about retaining talent in a market that’s in overdrive, Barnes says, explaining that flexibility, remote work options and mental health help are key. “Incentives can certainly help build a talent pipeline, but they won’t necessarily offer you quality candidates who intend to stay with your firm long-term,” she says. “Employers should be taking stock of how much remote work and working from home has impacted people’s work/life balance and offered flexibility that the standard 9-5 structure doesn’t allow.”

Flexibility can take different forms, she says, like certain days onsite, staggered start times and varied schedules to allow for managing child-care needs. Barnes notes that Monster is making flex schedules a permanent feature for its employees as remote work becomes a desired option among workers. The company also has added self-care days, partnered with Care.com to offer assistance with child- and elder-care, and has openly discussed mental health and wellness issues at work.

Smart employers should follow suit, she says, as employees will likely be able to switch to jobs that offer better perks and work-life balance. “Benefits such as these are going to become table stakes moving forward,” she says.

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“As workers think about going back to their workplaces, they’re taking stock of what’s a priority for them now. Certainly, health and safety is a top concern but so is balancing career growth, family needs and overall happiness. For many, that means starting over and making a change,” Barnes says. “And when they hear that there’s a labor shortage and employers are offering incentives, they start to feel confident about making a job switch.”

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver.