‘The war for talent’ continues. 40% of recent job switchers are again looking for a new position, survey finds

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Two of every 5 workers who switched jobs over the past year are looking for work again, according to a new survey published by Grant Thornton, a consulting firm.

These workers will likely account for a good deal of churn in the labor market as the so-called Great Resignation continues, and suggests employers may need to reconsider pay, benefits and other workplace issues.

“The power is going to the employee right now,” said Tim Glowa, who leads Grant Thornton’s employee listening and human capital services team. “They are in the driver’s seat.”

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Twenty-one percent of American workers took a new job in the past 12 months, according to the firm’s most recent State of Work in America survey published last week, which polled more than 5,000 employees.

Of those recent job-switchers, 40% are already actively looking for another job.

That’s a higher share than the 29% of all full-time employees who are actively looking — which means recent job-switchers are more likely to want a new gig than the overall population of American workers.

There’s likely some shared responsibility between workers and businesses for this “buyer’s remorse,” Glowa said.

For one, it may be due to a misalignment in job expectations versus reality — perhaps a bad manager or lack of career advancement possibilities, Glowa said. The dynamic is similar to buying a car and then realizing it’s a lemon, he added, likening it to a bait-and-switch by businesses.

Workers are benefiting from a hot labor market in which job openings are near record highs and pay has increased at its fastest clip in years, as businesses are forced to compete for talent.

“They’ve made the [recent] switch and it’s proven to be very easy,” Glowa said of active job seekers. “So they’re willing to make that switch again.”

Almost 48 million people left their jobs voluntarily in 2021, an annual record. The demand from businesses for labor has rebounded faster than the supply of workers as the economy has emerged from its pandemic hibernation, which has helped create the favorable conditions for workers.

Almost 60% of those who recently took new jobs had two or more competing offers when they made their decision, according to the survey.

“The war for talent is continuing,” Glowa said. “It’s really not showing any signs of slowing down.”

Some workers may have also jumped at a big raise before weighing all the pros and cons of the prospective offer, he said.

Of the workers who switched jobs in the last year, 40% got a pay increase of at least 10%, according to Grant Thornton. That’s more than double the 18% of all survey respondents.  

Employees who switched jobs in the last year cited pay (37%), advancement opportunities (27%) and benefits other than health and retirement (18%) as the top three reasons for leaving. Pay and benefits were also the two biggest reasons respondents turned down other offers (42% and 33%, respectively).  

A yet-to-be-published Grant Thornton survey of human-resources managers demonstrates that companies are somewhat out of touch with the sources of employee stress — meaning it may be tough for them to offer enticing benefits, Glowa said.

For example, employees cited personal debt, medical issues, mental health, daily inconveniences and the ability to retire as their top five drivers of stress. However, human resources leaders accurately guessed just one of those top stress-related issues (medical issues).

Sophie Tremblay

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