Even Your Satisfied Employees Are Job Hunting

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It is perhaps the most popular New Year's resolution, right up there with losing weight, quitting smoking and going back to school. And right now your current employees are attempting to upgrade to greener pasture. As the calendar turns to a new year, many people set their sights on job-hunting. But why? We've compiled a list of reasons for leaving a job below.

A recent Salary.com survey, taken by more than 2,400 people, sheds some light on why employees leave and who will be job searching this January and why. See what you're up against as an employer and use this information to understand where your workers are coming from.

Reasons for Leaving a Job

Before anyone starts tallying January job-hunters, the obvious question is how many of them are fed up with their current jobs and why. Even though the national unemployment rate is hovering just below 9 percent, a large percentage of people we surveyed are dissatisfied in their current positions. Almost half of our respondents—43 percent—said they are not happy in their current jobs.

Armed with the knowledge that so many workers are unhappy in their jobs, we wanted to find out why.

1. Insufficient Salary

Not surprisingly, money (or a lack thereof) topped the list of complaints. Of the people we surveyed, 67 percent said they want to leave their current position because of an insufficient salary. While money topped the list of complaints, workers also care deeply about other facets of their jobs.

2. Lack of End-of-the-Year Raises and Bonuses

Additionally, it looks like end-of-the-year raises and bonuses play a big part in that decision; 29 percent of people said the lack of a raise or bonus during the holidays directly contributed to their decision to look for a new job. Perhaps a small raise, bonus or simply some end-of-year recognition could improve your employee retention.

3. No Possibility of Advancement, No Appreciation

Sixty percent of people we surveyed claimed they are dissatisfied because there is little to no possibility of advancement. Meanwhile, half of the respondents said they are underappreciated and 35 percent complained they are overworked.

4. Poor Work-Life Balance

Also, 27 percent of those surveyed said they lack an adequate work-life balance and have to deal with horrible bosses. Although the employer-employee relationship is a two-way street, perhaps a look in the mirror is necessary as an employer if your workers keep going elsewhere.

Even though only 43 percent of people said they are unhappy with their current occupation, 48 percent of respondents told us they actively looked for another job in 2011.

When asked if they will look for a new job in 2012, that number jumped considerably to 56 percent. But despite the increased number of job-seekers expected this year, the Los Angeles Times recently cited a survey which found only 23 percent of companies plan on hiring full-time, permanent employees in 2012.

Turning Employee Job Dissatisfaction into Satisfaction

This is just further proof that the number of job hunters in January always increases, so if you want to make a concerted effort to keep your employees in place it might not be a bad idea to go the extra mile for the next couple of months.

Although more than half of the people we surveyed said they hope to leave their current jobs, many of them said they might change their minds if certain improvements are made.

Not surprisingly, most people—75 percent—said they want more money in the form of raises and/or bonuses. But you don't necessarily have to shell out more money to keep your employees happy. Role clarification and peace of mind are also high up on the priority list as 35 percent said they need their employers to set clearer goals, 33 percent are desperately seeking a better work-life balance and more time with their families and 27 percent of people would stay if they were allowed to work from home.

Fifty-seven percent of people said they are happy and content with their current jobs. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're standing pat.

Of the people who reported satisfaction with their current jobs, 31 percent said they actively searched for another job in 2011. Furthermore, 32 percent said they plan to keep searching for a new job in 2012.

Even Satisfied Employees are Looking

It might be frustrating, but employers need to realize even satisfied employees are looking for something better this time of year.

While younger workers have gained a reputation for job-hopping, our survey indicates those in the mid to late stages of their careers are the ones looking for new jobs.

Thirty-four percent of workers age 46-55 are looking to switch jobs this year, followed by 27 percent of people between the ages of 36-45. Less than one-quarter—20 percent—of those in the 26- to 35-year-old age group are actively seeking a new job this year, while a mere 3 percent of young workers between the ages of 18-25 said they plan to change careers.

Between fulfilling New Year's Resolutions to find a better job and possible mounting frustration based on not getting a raise or bonus in December, employers need to know their employees—both the satisfied and disgruntled—are on the lookout for greener pastures following Jan. 1.

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