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.
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