When the grass isn’t greener: Employees say they’re staying put for now

Employees have decided the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, according to WTW; a large majority of U.S. employees are choosing to stick with their current employer, citing pay, job security, health benefits and flexible work arrangements, June 4 research from the firm indicates.

In the survey conducted in the first quarter of the year, 72% of employee respondents said they plan to stay put, marking a major change from 2022, when 53% of employees said they were looking to leave. In addition, only 11% said they were open to offers compared a quarter of those surveyed in 2022. Only 25% reported feeling stuck in their jobs, down from 35% in 2022.

“As employees search for a greater sense of stability, employers are ramping up their core benefits,” Steve Nyce, senior economist and global leader for WTW’s Research and Innovation Center, said in a statement.

“Focus on pay has strengthened, and benefits are meeting the needs of many employees, not just some,” Nyce said. “By continuing to prioritize these factors, employers can build trust, ultimately creating an environment that will drive retention and provide job security.”

In the survey of 10,000 U.S. employees at medium and large private sector companies, the motivations for staying or leaving remained the same as in 2022. Pay continues to drive attraction and retention, with 56% of employees saying they might consider another job for better pay; they said they’d need at least a 10% increase to do so, however.

Benefits also play a major role in attraction and retention, according to the report. Nearly half of employees said they chose their current employer due to the benefits package, and 54% said they’ve remained with their employer for the same reason. 

About 40% said they’d leave their employer for better benefits elsewhere, even without a change in salary. But among those who said their benefits package meets their needs, 82% intend to stay with their employer.

The findings mirror a 26% year-over-year decline in attrition rates seen in LinkedIn data since April 2023. Employers should use this time to strengthen retention and build talent pipelines in case the trend reverses, LinkedIn leaders have recommended.

At the same time, HR leaders have reported waning expectations around retention and employee engagement for 2024, according to a report from The Conference Board. In response, most CHROs said their main human capital management priorities include employee experience, organizational culture and development of leadership and workforce capabilities.

Learning and development opportunities could be useful as well. Workers have reported feeling stagnant, replaceable and without internal mobility, according to survey results from the University of Phoenix Career Institute. Nearly three-quarters of workers said they need to learn new skills to stay ahead in their career, and about two-thirds said they’d be more likely to stay with a company that offered ways to upskill, reskill and apply new skills.