As the economy strengthens, so does employees’ resolve to change jobs

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For the past three years, companies have been learning to do more with less — a good way for employers to weather the economic storm, but not necessarily the best move for employee morale. Smaller workforces and budgets have meant added pressure on employees, as many have been forced to work longer hours or take pay cuts – or both.

Chances are though, had you spoken to any of these overworked/underpaid employees in the past few years, while they might have expressed dismay over the greater pressure they faced at work, many of them would have also said that they were happy with their job, because they were just grateful to have one.

But now, with a better economy on the horizon, many workers are re-evaluating their company loyalty. According to a new study from insurance and financial-services company MetLife, 47 percent of employees report feeling a very strong loyalty to their employers, down from 59 percent in 2008 and a three-year low point.

Though employers will admit that they’ve expected a lot out of their employees — 43 percent of large companies and 38 percent of small companies say they’ve increased productivity in the last year — the decline in employee loyalty was an unforeseen consequence. Fifty-one percent of employers surveyed said they thought employees were very loyal, roughly the same percentage as in 2008.

“Worker loyalty has been slowly ebbing over the last several years, and it is important that employers take action to turn the tide around,” Anthony J. Nugent, an executive vice president at MetLife, said in a statement.”The short-term gains employers realized from greater productivity appear to be short-lived and now pose bottom-line challenges as key talent considers other employment opportunities that have arisen as a result of the improving economy. There is no doubt that the rebounding economy will bring more opportunities for employees, especially the high performers.”

According to the survey, 36 percent of employees plan to look for work at a new company this year, and according to a CareerBuilder poll from earlier this year, 76 percent of employees would change jobs if the right opportunity came along.

Thinking of switching employers this year? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set out on your search:

Figure out what you’re looking for

Pinpoint what it is that your current job is lacking, and be sure that you seek that out in a new employer. If working long hours has made you realize you want a job that offers flexible scheduling, target companies with a reputation of letting employees work from home, for example. Knowing what you’re looking for from your next employer will help ensure you make a good move, not just wind up in a different job with the same problems.

Decide whether you’re willing to relocate

The economy is looking up, but many companies are still testing the waters and hiring cautiously. That means that although your dream job may be out there, you may have to work a little harder and expand your job-seeking horizons to find it. Ask yourself if you’re willing to move to a new city or state for a new job. Consider the effect it would have on your commute, family life, finances (since not all companies will pay for relocation) and quality of life.

Make sure you understand the new position

Haven’t gotten a promotion in three years and looking to move up the corporate ladder? Make sure that your next job will challenge you to work at the next level, not just offer you a better title. Before you accept a job, be sure that you clearly understand — and will enjoy — the responsibilities you would have in your new position.

Evaluate what you’d be leaving behind

There are positives and negatives to any job, so make sure you weigh your options before making your decision. Do you have a lot of friends at work? Do you get great benefits? Does your company offer bonuses to employees who have been there for five years — and you’ve been there for four? Consider the whole picture before making your decision.

For more on job change, check out these articles:

5 factors to consider before relocating

Is it time for a job change?



  1. I think one should not take the decision to change a job when one is emotional or stressed out. Rather, relax for a while, talk to family or friends and take the decision after considering as many things as possible. A job change decision should not be taken in a hurry.

  2. Economy improves? I’d like to be living in your fantasy world.

    Is this like Dorothy from Oz? Say, “There’s no place like home” enough times and you’ll be rewarded?

    I’ve got a great job, but read all negative comments on the comment sections of every major news source and you guys think the economy is improving?

    QE1 and QE2 aren’t fooling anyone.

  3. The premise that the economy is improving is rediculous.

    Though I hope that things will improve… how in the world can they with this kind of intrusion from Government regulation to outsourcing There is no retail sector and major players in the retail market are falling or downsizing at alarming rates. The job sector? If you like to be taken advantage of now’s the time. Low pay with credentials through the roof.

    Yes… an improving economy is not happening right now… so let’s get real! Career builder just trying to put a positive spin on a very negative situation.

  4. “76 percent of employees would change jobs if the right opportunity came along” – that’s about right for where I work. For most of the employees I talk to are wanting to leave, but the economy is holding them back. When the employer treats you like cr@p and has a “select few” to whom he showers with praise and promotions then it is no wonder people want to leave.

  5. The economy is holding me back. Yes…(I am “lucky” enough to be employed) I do have a job with health benefits, but my current job is not what I went to school for. I am not happy at my current job. I was forced to take this job, because I had no other choice. I still have no other choice, and every day my employer reminds me of that fact. They love holding that power over my head. Yes…I feel so “lucky” to have this job. I feel so “lucky” that I went to school…just to (currently) waste my entire education on a job that requires no education at all. Not to forget…working less hours (due to cut-backs…thanks to this “improving” economy) and working for less pay, too.

    So…where is this so-called improving economy? I would leave my job at the very first second an opportunity (equal of pre-2007) presented itself. But…I live in reality…and sadly, I don’t see this economy improving for many years to come. Sadly…because I am tired of not “winning”…at least like Charlie Sheen!

  6. Of course MSN, CNN, Fox, etc. all the mainstream media is going to put a rosy glow spin on the economy. If you think about it, look at the majority of ads on MSN. BoA, Merrill Lynch, and Scottrade. Who is paying MSN? The banks, so don’t expect any realistic truth about the economy with mainstream media, it’s controlled and manipulated. If anything do the opposite of what mainstream media recommends. I’ve been in the stock market for almost 10 years and I would have been a major loser if I followed the advice and BS on MSN.

  7. The place I work treats people like shit. No increases or even performance reviews in over three years, 401k match cut two years back, bring in your own office supplies and laptops if you need them to do your job, no early shutdowns on holiday weekends or for inclement weather, and they say they are looking into these at some point later this year. The inevitable result is that to remain “competitive” there are freezes on everything. This is while they are expanding business, winning big contracts, and the upper management and staff are treated quite well.
    Several key people have already left, but they continue to hire new people desperate for a job at lower pay. They are definitely exploiting the situation.
    When things really do start to pick up in the local job market, employees will not forget and will leave in droves unless the company takes some drastic and retroactive action on salaries and benefits.

  8. From the comments above, I’d think everyone here either lives in Detroit or their only skills are newspaper publishing or typewriter repair. I started looking for a job, and had a new one with a large salary jump within the month. I still get calls from recruiters about open positions. A couple of my friends have gotten new jobs in the last couple of months, too. I also had to go through a pay freeze in ’09, long hours, and all the negative stuff people are complaining about above. Based on my experience (and the amount of openings I see on job boards), things are definitely improving.

    • From your self centered comment, I think you must live in Raleigh, NC or Atlanta, GA where the economic impact was far less. I’m not from Detroit and my skills are Software Engineer. I have not lost my job; I survived (so far) the Great Recession and came out with a modest pay increase. Like other people who have fallen or endured during the recession; I refuse to be blind to what is really going on and will not measure the state of the economic situation we are due to my success or the success of people around me. Only arrogant fools do that, and if you truly believe that things are “definitely improving” in a system where few who do nothing have everything while many who do everything have nothing, then you are “definitely ignorant”.

    • I don’t live in Detoit but the unemployment rate hoovers just below 12%. The local news reports that there is a BOOM in hiring … all the jobs are low-wage. As to skills, I have computer skills as well as an MBA. I am employed but unable to move up nor out for anything better — and I haven’t had a raise going on five years.

  9. I too am one of the “lucky” ones. After we were sold to a multi-national conglomerate, I am now one of the lucky ones. Lucky to survive the layoffs, lucky to have to do three jobs for the price of one, lucky to have to deal with arbitrary rules, cuts in 401K, health benefits, and training. As soon as I am able, I will be out of here before the management can figure out what hit them.

  10. While I am fortunate to have a job, I live in an area that is economically depressed during good times, much less now. My employers treat people like crap and can get away with it because where else are you going to go. As soon as I can find something better I am gone.

  11. I am very lucky in that I not only have a job, I have an amazing employer. What I don’t have is the paycheck I was used to before the meltdown. However, as our business has improved, he’s making it a priority to provide additional benefits to his staff that stuck by him. Right now it’s simple things like a pre-paid gas card every now and then, and lunch for the office. He’s made some big promises, I hope I’m ok in trusting him to follow through on them.

    But I think we do need the media to keep telling us the economy is improving. Hopefully with a rosy glow, the middle to upper socio-economic groups will feel more confident to spend and hire people. With nothing but dismal news, people pinch pennies across all groups, helping no one.

  12. I did live in Detroit for 16 years. After surviving several rounds of economic downturns, alas, it finally came time for the decision to either stay with being miseable while treading/sinking/drowning, or move away to try to rebuild life again. I have many friends in MI, it was hard to leave them. Yet, one can’t stay in a place when even cutting expenses to the bone no longer suffices any longer. And this was after working 6 days a week at 2 part time jobs, because that’s all there was to choose from. BTW, one of those was as a substitute teacher for 10 years. During those 10 years no pay increases were offered at all and in fact, any bonuses eventually went out the window. In 2008, when the gas prices was so high, there was one day that it cost me more money to go to work than I was going to clear. Sometimes, people need to go in search of a greener pasture, just to survive. The stories in the Biblical Book of Exodus are great examples.

  13. Opportunities are still out there for the people that aren’t afraid to take the risk. Leaving your current employer for the next is always a risk. I’ve doubled my salary in the last 3 years by doing just that…during a recession.

    • Oh, I’ve been on a few interviews … the positions were higher than the one I work now. It’s just that the pay was considerable LOWER. They want everything but willing to pay nothing.

  14. My age is holding me back, I have been doing my line of work for more than 30 years and I was one of the first to be laid off due to the economy. I’ve been looking for 2 years to find a good job and I’m not getting any response and I really think it has to do with my age (57 ). I have the knowledge needed to do the job but never hear back on jobs I know I’m the one to fill the position, I guess I’m too old to do the job and too young to retire, what to do?

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