May depend on likelihood of long-term job security

New findings from the 2014 Emerging Workforce Study, conducted online and via phone by Harris Poll on behalf of Spherion Staffing Services, reveal that workers perceive job hopping as damaging to a person's career success and believe being loyal to one employer pays off in the long run.

The study was conducted from February through April 2014 among 230 U.S. human resources managers and more than 2,000 U.S. workers.

"The results from our Emerging Workforce Study speak to how the economy has changed the workplace," said Spherion Division President Sandy Mazur. "Before the recession, it wasn't uncommon to see workers dedicate years of service to one employer. However, during the recession, workers defined their loyalty to their company as the contributions that they made to their workplace, which in turn, helped them market themselves and their experience when job security was uncertain and massive layoffs occurred. Now, as the economy rebounds, workers have had a taste of job stability, and they like it."

For more than 15 years, the Emerging Workforce Study has tracked the shifting opinions and attitudes of workers and their employers in the context of ongoing social and economic events. In 2014, surprising revelations about how workers feel about employee loyalty, job stability, and career advancement in comparison to years past include the following:

  • Long-term career advancement doesn't always happen by moving from one employer to another, but rather by staying with one company. Sixty-one (61) percent of workers today agreed that "changing jobs every few years is usually damaging to a person's long-term career advancement," compared to 47% of workers in 2002. Also, 63% of workers agreed that long-term career advancement depends on staying with an employer for a long time, an increase of 19 percentage points from 2002.
  • Workers today are more likely to associate their commitment to their employer with the likelihood of long-term job security. This year, 70% of workers agreed that "my level of commitment to my employer depends on the likelihood of long-term job security": the highest it's been in 15 years.
  • Loyalty is not only measured by an employee's job contributions to their company, but also how long they stay with their employer. In 2014, 83% of workers agreed that "loyalty is being willing to stay with an employer for a long haul," an increase of 12 percentage points since 2002. During this same time period, the number of workers who believed that "loyalty is not related to how long you stay with one employer, but to how big a contribution you are currently making" declined from 68% in 2002 to 62% in 2014.
  • Employers should take more responsibility in creating a defined career path for their employees. In 2014, 79% of workers agreed with this statement, compared to 72% of workers in 2002.

Because workers perceive loyalty to be an important part of job stability, employee engagement takes on a new critical importance for companies, especially as human resource managers are more worried about a talent shortage today than they were two years ago (65% in 2014 versus 56% in 2012).

"This unprecedented data shows that more and more workers see value in increased loyalty to their company as it facilitates job stability and growth," said Mazur. "Employers can take advantage of this shift by treating more workers as high potentials, focusing on retaining, engaging and motivating these workers to maximize their dedication and contributions. Otherwise, they may ultimately lose them."

More than half (51%) of workers who are not engaged in their jobs are likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months in comparison to 20% of engaged workers, which suggests that companies that improve employee engagement levels may reduce turnover. Additionally, 54% of workers who are engaged rated their level of job satisfaction as excellent/very good, versus only 8% of non-engaged workers. Companies can reduce costs associated with training, recruiting, and turnover by more effectively engaging and, thus, retaining workers, as employees who are engaged are three times more likely to stay with their company for the next five years than employees who are not engaged (61% vs. 21%).