Human Resources News & Insights

What do today’s employees want? Survey uncovers a new outlook

Guess we really shouldn’t be surprised: The recent recession seems to have employees longing for the good old days, when workers spent their entire careers with a single company.

At least that’s the message in recent research from HR consultant Towers Watson. Its recent Global Workforce Study indicates that U.S. employees have switched gears from the “free agent” philosophy of a decade ago — when both workers and employers seemed to accept the premise that loyalty was an outdated concept.

Not going anywhere

Eight of 10 respondents to the Global Workforce Study said their aim is to “settle in” to a long-term job. Half of those folks said they’d like to work for a single company their entire career — and the rest wanted to work for no more than two or three organizations.

And, clearly, employees are planning to hold on to what they’ve got — even if prospects for advancement are slim:

  • 51% said there are no opportunities to move up in the current job; 43% said if they were to advance to a higher position, it’d have to be with another company, but
  • 81% said they’re not actively looking for a different job.

And here’s the final proof of how security conscious employees have become: Asked which employment situation they’d prefer, 86% of respondents chose a “secure and stable position” over “substantially higher levels of compensation.”

Sounds like a pretty unsettled workforce to us. And it’s also a rare opportunity for companies — because when economic conditions improve, employees are going to remember how their employers treated them during the rough patches.

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  • Mike

    Clearly, I believe, the current economic environment is influencing this poll. When the economy gains an upswing (and other jobs become more “easier” to obtain), we’ll see where loyalty by employees to their employers really stands. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see loyalty, integrity, maturity, trustworthiness being consistent characteristics of both employee & employer. Unfortunately, these qualities seem lacking in a lot of work places, on both accounts.

  • I agree with Mike. People are in the ‘protect’ mode right now. They are fearful and will protect what they have as opposed to going out and creating something different.
    Ultimately, once the fear of finding other work is allieviated, people will find job dissatisfaction again and begin to move around.
    What would be more encouraging, more progressive is if people began to look for the opportunities that are there, just not in the conventional 8-5 mode.
    A person who really finds out the ‘Why’ of their passion in work, and then goes after employment that aligns with it, will most likely experience real job satisfaction and engagement which in turn is a win/win for everyone!
    Most people don’t know how to accomplish this or choose to be limited by their own beliefs about themselves and their abilitiy to create such a career.
    As an HR Director, my happiest moments are finding people who find job satisfaction and engagement for themselves. How people are treated and valued in the workplace is the best retention tool out there.