Employees ponder virtual, out-of-state jobs to avoid return-to-office mandates

Dive Brief:

  • Employees appear to be more confident about the job market, with about half (51%) telling iCIMS in a December survey they are considering looking for a new job in 2024, according to the talent advisory firm’s 2024 Workforce Report, released Jan. 18. This represents a sizable jump from last year, iCIMS said.
  • In addition, many employees aren’t caving to pressure to return to the office, the survey revealed. Instead, they’re pursuing out-of-state jobs — virtually, that is — with applications for out-of-state roles making up 22% of all applications, a slight uptick from the past few years, the survey found. About a third of employees say they’d consider looking for a new job if their company mandated a full-time return to the office.
  • Job seekers, however, may have to tempter their expectations: Employers seem to be in a holding pattern — they’re opening roles but have slowed external hiring by 13%, according to iCIMS’ research. By comparison, external job openings are getting 14% more applications, the research showed. “As employers invest in internal mobility programs to grow and retain workers, now might be a good time for people to snag a new role with their current employer instead of looking elsewhere,” the firm noted.

Dive Insight:

Across the globe, CEOs are viewing 2024 as the year of reinvention, according to a Jan. 16 report from PwC. Although generative AI is the most visible catalyst, there are other factors at play, including disruptive forces within industries, concerns about revenue prospects and the challenges and opportunities of climate transition, PwC found.

To address these changes, business leaders agree training is a must. In particular, companies are relying on their own workforces to meet business needs; to do so, they’re making reskilling a priority, Deloitte reported in December.

The iCIMS findings back this strategy: “Now is the time to demonstrate internal mobility, career growth and career management opportunities for employees before they turn into job seekers,” iCIMS Chief People Officer Laura Coccaro recommended.

Employers can also “show them the money,” iCIMS added. After a year of uncertainty, employees are shifting back to what traditionally motivates retention: 52% of the survey respondents who said they’re considering looking for a new job this year cited salary as their top reason for the change, the firm reported. Half of workers said they’ll look for a new job if they don’t get an expected promotion in 2024.

Although iCIMS found that 32% of employees will seek jobs elsewhere if forced to return to the office full time, others feel differently, according to a TalenTrust survey, released in December. Workers prefer remote work whenever possible, but they’ll accept office-based roles if those roles provide the best career growth, TalenTrust’s CEO stated.

On a positive note, even with all the workplace transitions, employees still reported high levels of job satisfaction, with 55% of iCIMS respondents rating their satisfaction at least 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. This gives talent leaders the opportunity to get back to basics, Coccaro suggested.

Specifically, she recommended employers ensure their technology is equipped for what comes next, cultivate talent pools so teams are prepared for market shifts and think proactively about HR approaches to retain and grow talent.