Robert Half Research Points To Strong Job Optimism Among U.S. Workers

Many workers will be on the move in the coming months, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half. The “Job Optimism” survey of more than 2,800 professionals tracks employee sentiment on current and future career prospects and reveals key implications for employers.

Employee Confidence Signals Movement

The majority of workers surveyed (87%) feel confident about their current skill set and job security. But that doesn’t guarantee they’ll stay put: Nearly 1 in 3 employees (32%) said they plan to look for a new role in the next several months. The top reasons are to obtain a salary boost and have greater opportunities for career advancement (29% each).

Additional findings:

  • 55% of Gen Z employees (ages 18 to 24) plan to pursue a new job; 32% said the main reason is due to lack of professional development opportunities at their current company.
  • More men (36%) than women (29%) anticipate launching a job search in the next few months.
  • Professionals earning less than $50,000 a year are most interested in making a career move.
  • Among the 28 U.S. cities in the survey, workers in Atlanta (50%), Charlotte (44%), Houston and Sacramento (41%) are most likely to look for a new role.

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“Since the pandemic started, professionals have endured an uncertain employment landscape,” said Robert Half senior executive director Paul McDonald. “As we turn the corner on COVID-19 and business conditions improve, employers will face new hiring and retention challenges and must adapt to meet the needs of a more resilient and resolute workforce.”

Company Values are Non-Negotiable

Nearly 1 in 3 professionals (31%) said they had a shift in perspective due to the pandemic and prefer to work for an organization that better aligns with their personal values. In addition, 71% of employees would leave a company whose values don’t align with their own. The corporate programs most important to workers are employee well-being (70%) and diversity, equity and inclusion (47%).

“Today’s employees have high expectations of their employer. They want to belong to an organization that puts people first and takes action to create positive change in the workplace and community,” said Lynne SmithRobert Half senior vice president of global human resources.

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Flexibility Comes First

When considering a career change, many professionals will overlook traditional office jobs: 47% reported wanting a fully remote role and 39% said they’re interested in full-time contracting. Millennials are most likely to favor fully remote jobs and a career in contracting.

McDonald noted, “Professionals with in-demand skills know they have options — and leverage. Now is the time for companies to rethink where and how jobs are done and reshape organizational structures and policies to retain and attract the best talent.”

Key Takeaways for Employers

Leaders should keep these three best practices in mind to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover:

  1. Make professional development plans. Partner with top performers to define their long-term objectives and provide challenging assignments and skill-building opportunities that will help them reach their goals without leaving the company.
  2. Continually refine organizational culture. Keep a pulse on the most important drivers of employee well-being and engagement and act on feedback in a timely manner.
  3. Embrace flexibility. Companies that adopt a hybrid work model and hire a mix of permanent and contract talent can enjoy the benefits of improved staff morale, better performance and access to a deeper and more diverse candidate pool.

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