Why workers plan to find a new job in 2017

One-third of employees say they are regularly searching for new job opportunities, according to new data that reveal a generational gap in those who expect to switch employers in the next year.

A new survey by CareerBuilder shows that younger US workers are more than twice as likely as older workers to expect to change jobs in 2017.

The number of employees planning to find a job elsewhere is not much higher than a year ago: 22% in 2017, compared with 21% at the start of 2016. But 35% of workers ages 18 to 34 expect to change jobs, compared with 30% last year and 23% in 2015. Just 15% of workers 35 and older plan a job switch this year.

A UK survey from early in 2016 found that 32% of workers planned to leave their jobs within 12 months, down from 37% who planned a departure at the start of 2015, according to the Institute of Leadership and Management.

In a separate UK survey, 27% of workers cited a lack of career development opportunities and dissatisfaction with salary and benefits as reasons for wanting to leave, according to recruiting firm Hays. Overall, 55% of workers in the Hays survey were not satisfied with their salary.

But salary is not the benefit workers mainly seek. Instead, it’s meaningful work, a path forward in their career, and the ability to see how their job helps the organisation achieve its goals. Nick Araco, CEO of the CFO Alliance, a member organisation with more than 6,000 CFOs and other executives from midsize companies in North America, said better communication with workers and better designed compensation can go a long way towards stemming the tide of worker dissatisfaction.

“People talk about a lack of loyalty, and that only occurs when there’s a lack of communication or a lack of alignment on strategy,” Araco said. With more data available, companies should give workers incentives that go beyond hard numbers such as revenue gains. For example, workers can earn more based on high marks for customer satisfaction.

“Now that we have made the not-measurable measurable, there are a lot more benchmarks being set,” Araco said. “That presents an opportunity for organisations to show the impact [an employee] can have. … The whole idea of setting performance targets, that’s no longer just the responsibility of senior management, or a process that sits only with sales. There is now a real opportunity because we have the ability to use metrics in plan design to have that be organisation-wide.”

In the CareerBuilder survey, about 3,400 full-time workers were asked what perks would make them more willing to join or stay with a company. The top five were:

The CareerBuilder survey shows that searching for jobs even when already employed is more common among younger workers than older ones. Here is the age breakdown along with the percentage who search for new jobs regularly:

  • 18–24: 55%
  • 25–34: 42%
  • 35–44: 35%
  • 45–54: 35%
  • 55 and older: 19%

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.