Deloitte Survey: Two Out of Three Workers Actively Looking for New Job

Wasn’t it the famous philosopher and reality star Meat Loaf who once famously sang, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad?

Meat Loaf and his two out of three comment come to mind when you consider a new survey by global consultant Deloitte this week found that with the economy improving, nearly two out of three employees at large companies are actively looking for a new job.

Yes, two out of three ain’t bad — unless you’re talking about how many of your workers are looking to walk out the door.

The study, titled Talent Edge 2020: Building the Recovery Together — What Talent Expects and How Leaders Are Responding,” found that not only are 65 percent of the employees surveyed actively testing the job market, but that “dissatisfied employees are transparent” with their executives and managers about “the most effective employee retention strategies” their companies could utilize to keep them.

Generational job issues

When asked to list their top three retention incentives, 53 percent of respondents ranked promotion/job advancement first, followed by increased compensation (39 percent), and additional bonuses or other financial incentives (34 percent). Another 30 percent of those surveyed listed boosting employee support/recognition from their managers, a non-financial incentive, as an effective retention tactic.

“We’re living in a world where each generation in the workforce has vastly different goals, expectations, and desires,” said Jeff Schwartz, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. Talent Services leader, in a press release about the survey. “As employees eye the exit signs following a hard hitting recession, employers need to tailor and target their talent strategies to satisfy each employee group from baby boomers to Millennials.”

There were other interesting findings in the report, including this breakdown by generations:

  • Baby boomers, among all workforce generations surveyed, expressed the strongest discontent with their employers and the greatest frustration that their loyalty and hard work has been neither recognized nor rewarded. Almost one-third (32 percent) of baby boomers surveyed say a lack of trust in leadership is a top turnover trigger — the highest ranking by any workforce generation.
  • Generation X employees are clearly the group most likely to be looking at exit strategies from their current jobs. Citing lack of career progress as a top exit trigger (65 percent), only 28 percent of Gen X employees surveyed expect to stay with their current employers — a clear signal to employers to expect a significant exodus by employees viewed future leaders.
  • Millennials exhibit a sharply different view of a strong corporate culture, as compared to other generations. By a more than 2-1 ratio (32 percent to 13 percent), Millennials regard their employers’ commitment to “corporate responsibility/volunteerism” to be very important, as compared to baby boomers. Millennials are also nearly three times more likely to say a “fun work environment” is important compared to baby boomers (55 percent to 19 percent).
  • Employees who plan to stay with their current employers (35 percent) say their companies have strong talent programs, characterized by clear career paths, leadership development initiatives, trust and confidence in corporate leadership, superior programs to retain top talent, and effective communication.

How do you keep employees from walking?

Talent Edge 2020: Building the Recovery Together — What Talent Expects and How Leaders Are Responding” is part of Deloitte’s survey series conducted with Forbes Insights. The survey was taken by 356 employees at large companies with annual sales exceeding $500 million, with more than three in four respondents at companies with more than $1 billion in annual sales.

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This latest survey from Deloitte leaves me feeling a little bit like the Bill Murray character in the film Groundhog Day — don’t I keep writing this same thing over and over again? Whether it be that 74% of Passive Job Seekers Are Ready to Make a Move or that Only 1 in 3 Employees Say They Are Engaged in Their Job, one thing is certain: survey after survey keeps coming back and saying that workers today are ready to get up and get out of their current job.

It’s the expected fallout from the way so many companies treated their workforce during the recession — you know, the “shut up and be happy you have a job” management approach — and as a lot of us predicted, the reaction to that terribly foolish and short-sighted philosophy is finally coming back to bite businesses big time.

There IS a way out however, because Deloitte’s analysis of this latest survey data points to “clear and actionable strategies employers can implement to deliver leading talent programs and keep top talent committed to their jobs, excited about their career prospects, and confident in their corporate leadership.”

As Deloitte’s Jeff Schwartz says, “Firms can separate themselves from their competitors if they step up their talent programs now and refine their strategies to engage workers and to focus on specific employee needs.”

He’s right, of course. The only question is, do companies out there care enough about retaining their talent to listen and perhaps do what is necessary to keep them engaged and on board?

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


6 Comments on “Deloitte Survey: Two Out of Three Workers Actively Looking for New Job

  1. John – I know what you mean about the Ground Hog Day feeling. I am still waiting to see the big mass exodus from the rebellion after the 2001/2002 recession.

    From my perspective Companies don’t ever care about retaining people. Why else would they cling to the “at-will” employment status to make sure we can get rid of employees whenever we need to? It is a get on board or get out mentality.

    People on the other hand put up with a tremendous amount of poor treatment, and when faced with new opportunities often elect to stick with the “devil they know.”

    In the end if the surveys are all true, the employers only need to worry if people act on it.

    1. In my opinion employers and employees both benefit from at-will employment. It is one of the few tools that forces employers to remain competitive in the marketplace. If your benefits stink, your workplace environment stinks, and your pay stinks, word will get out quickly. I can assure you as an employer we are well aware how much it costs us to replace an employee that has left to pursue another opportunity and it usually is not cheap, and retention of key employees is one of the top priorities on any good manager’s list (as the survey shows). Note the word key as used in the previous sentence: non-key (i.e. non-performing) employees are another story.

      With regards to the tremendous amount of poor treatment, that’s possibly true. However, at-will works both ways. If your girlfriend (or boyfriend) treated you poorly, consistently, and for a long period of time, would you put up with it? Why should you from your employer? If you find a new opportunity and elect to stick with the ‘devil you know’, why should that elicit sympathy from anyone? Move on, as anyone in a soured relationship would. If you have skills that are valuable, and a reputation for doing what you say you will do, job opportunities are abundant.

      1. Quentin – I get that you probably have to sell the employed at will thing, but it is nothing but a way for employers to retain the right to fire someone for no reason at all. There is nothing in it for the employee. I have had the opportunity to have worked under an employment contract for a 3 year period. The only thing it really did was specified how I could be terminated and the severance package. Not only could I quit for any reason and forfeit my severance, If I could show that the reason I quit was due to something they changed to make me miserable, I could quit and still get my severance. I would say that is a tad better for the employee than “at-will.”

        Don’t get me wrong, I like “at-will” having been a business owner, and I am very grateful that I have never had to employ anyone in France. But it all depends on how it is used and if a company leaves employees hanging in the wind with a 1-2 week notice/severance package. That is common and I think bogus.

        You personally might care about retaining the people, but companies in general from my experience are all talk and no action.

        As for sympathy for people who stick with the devil they know – I have none and would not want to elicit any. I was just making an observation. We have heard about the imminent exodus before, only it never seems to come.

  2. I think that we’ll continue to see a lot of dissatisfaction with current employers as recovery continues. As this survey reports, those who remained with their companies during the Great Recession are now looking to be rewarded for their loyalty and increased workload during difficult times. I’m not surprised that promotions, compensation and benefits are the top three factors that would retain employees, but it is interesting that increasing employee support or recognition is a close fourth. That means that there is an opportunity for employers who still cannot provide increased financial benefits to retain their top talent. I think companies will be surprised to discover the processes that can be implemented to keep employee satisfaction high and to keep employees from looking for greener pastures. More at

  3. From the employers’ perspective, the concern here should be less about the talent leaving and more about the quality of work they are receiving from their employees who are unhappy. Oftentimes we think we know what will make us happy, but we really don’t. So, regardless of what the employees report that they want to stay in their current jobs, most of the solutions to creating engaged employees cost very little and reap huge benefits to the company’s bottom line.

  4. Another interesting post and study John.  Like you say, you (we) are writing the same story and singing the same song.  Until the employers really and truly CARE about the employees, this will not change.  If the CEO’s, Managers, bosses could see the correlation between happy employees and more production (Profits) they might actually do something different. 

    At the CARE Movement, CARE is an acronym for; Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage. These simple and basic principles can make a huge difference in the attitude of both employee and employer.  They are a great starting point to improving morale in the workplace.  Just a thought.  Thanks again John.  Take CARE.


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