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Majority of U.S. employees are open to leaving their employers, WTW survey finds

Remote work has left many employees feeling disconnected, worried about impact on careers

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March 17, 2022

ARLINGTON, VA, March 17, 2022 — With the tight labor market showing no signs of easing, a majority of U.S. employees (53%) are open to leaving their employers. In fact, 44% of employees said they actively looked for a new job during the fourth quarter of 2021 or were planning to seek new employment during the first quarter of 2022. Those are among the key findings from a survey by WTW (Willis Towers Watson, NASDAQ: WTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company.

According to the survey, one in four workers (25%) said that while they intend to stay with their employers, they feel stuck in their positions and would change jobs if they could. This increases to over half of senior managers (55%) and three in 10 managers (30%).

More than half of respondents (56%) cited pay as a top reason they would look for a new job. Two in five (41%) would leave for a 5% increase. In fact, one in five employees (19%) would take a new job for the same pay. Other important factors cited by employees as reasons for accepting a position elsewhere include health benefits (39%), job security (33%) and flexible work arrangements (31%).

“The findings suggest that employees continue to job hunt at the same pace as last year and that the labor exodus is not yet over,” said Steve Nyce, senior economist, WTW. “Employers remain under pressure as many workers seek enhanced rewards, more job security and different experiences. In many cases, employers are responding by boosting pay, enhancing health and retirement benefits, and offering more flexibility to not only find workers but also keep the ones they have from looking elsewhere.”

Employees divided on remote versus onsite work

As companies rev up plans to bring their workforce back to the office, the survey found that a majority of employees (58%) want to work remotely, either most of the time (36%) or in a hybrid arrangement that splits their time (22%). Only 42% would rather work onsite.

According to the survey, the shift to remote work during the pandemic yielded mixed results. For example, 70% of employees said working remotely helped them achieve better work/life balance, and 65% thought their job performance had been evaluated fairly; however, more than half (52%) said working remotely left them feeling disconnected from their team, and 44% are worried working remotely will negatively affect their career.

Over four in 10 (44%) cited less commuting time, followed by reduced costs associated with going into the office (37%) and being able to better manage household commitments (33%) as a key advantage of working remotely. On the negative side, one-third of employees (33%) cited a lack of social interaction at work as a disadvantage, and 30% reported that remote work made it difficult to build new relationships with coworkers.

“Most organizations recognize that a mix of in-person and remote work is pervasive and expected to stay. While some employees will embrace the new hybrid model, others will worry about the impact it will have in terms of their productivity, work/life balance, recognition and opportunities for advancement. The challenge for employers is to understand the concerns of their workers and map an effective path forward,” said Tracey Malcolm, global leader, Future of Work and Risk, WTW.

About the survey

The 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey was conducted during December 2021 and January 2022. Respondents include 9,658 U.S. employees from large and midsize private employers, representing a broad range of industries.

About WTW

At WTW (NASDAQ: WTW), we provide data-driven, insight-led solutions in the areas of people, risk and capital. Leveraging the global view and local expertise of our colleagues serving 140 countries and markets, we help organizations sharpen their strategy, enhance organizational resilience, motivate their workforce and maximize performance.

Working shoulder to shoulder with our clients, we uncover opportunities for sustainable success—and provide perspective that moves you.

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