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Joining the Great Resignation Can Pay Off, New Survey Says

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The Great Resignation rocked large corporations and small businesses alike, with people leaving their jobs in search of better options as they reconsidered their lifestyles and values. And, given general uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense. But how have these work moves worked out for employees?

A new survey from The Conference Board — an independent business membership and research association — looks at how job hoppers have fared during the pandemic. Here are its findings.

New job, better pay?

For nearly 3 in 10 (29%) who left their job during the pandemic, their new job pays more than 30% better. And another 20% say they got a pay bump ranging from 10% to 20%. But some seem to be benefiting more than others.

For example, 35% of senior leaders — think vice presidents, C-suite managers, CEOs — who changed jobs saw a compensation increase of 30% or more. Conversely, only 22% of individual contributors had the same experience.

Part of the drive to look for better pay comes from inflation, especially among younger workers. In fact, 72% of millennials (those born in 1982 through 2000) are worried about their salaries keeping up with the rising cost of living or inflation. By comparison, just 59% of baby boomers (those born in 1946 through 1964) say the same. That is perhaps less surprising when you consider the economic turmoil that millennials lived through as they entered adulthood.

But, as it turns out, not everyone is changing jobs just for the money.

Earnings aren’t everything

Nearly half of workers (45%) say pay isn’t the most important part of choosing a job. Some of the most common perks people are looking for from a new job include:

  • Company contribution to a retirement plan, including a match (72%)
  • Workplace flexibility (71%)
  • Generous paid time off (64%)

Women are more likely than men to want workplace flexibility (77% versus 63%, respectively) and generous paid time off (71% versus 54%, respectively). Conversely, men value equity awards like stock options more than women (42% versus 26%, respectively).

Millennials also tend to value workplace flexibility and generous paid time off (78% and 72%, respectively) more than their older counterparts.

But this is just one side of the story. And it’s clear that jobs aren’t meeting the needs and wants of their existing workers.

Why people quit — and what could make them stay

More than a quarter of workers say they’ve already quit because they were disappointed with their company. And nearly a third cite the need for career advancement.

Of course, some Americans are still considering leaving their jobs. But the reasons for doing so are split along generational lines. For example:

  • 23% of baby boomers say recognition for work and accomplishments would make them stay
  • 31% of millennials say a 30% increase in their base salary would keep them at their current job
  • 32% of Gen Xers (those born in 1965 through 1981) list a promotion to a new role as their top potential motivator to stay

Respondents still on the fence about leaving their current job say they could be persuaded to stay if presented with a counteroffer that included a promotion (29%), salary increase (21%) or flexibility (20%). Interestingly, though, 11% wouldn’t accept a counteroffer at all.

For businesses looking to keep up with the new worker landscape, it may become necessary to look at these factors and make changes if they want to hold onto their employees.

Methodology: The Conference Board fielded the survey from Feb. 8-14, 2022, receiving 2,679 responses — primarily from full-time workers. Generations were defined as follows:

  • Millennials: born in 1982 through 2000
  • Generation X: born in 1965 through 1981
  • Baby boomers: born in 1946 through 1964