The Great Resignation has been in the news for more than a year, but many workers have stayed put — and intend to remain so.
Despite headlines about workers leaving jobs en masse, only 29% of American workers have switched jobs in the past two years, according to the latest MagnifyMoney survey, and just 33% of workers would rather leave their employer for a new job than switch roles internally.
In a tight labor market, there’s more competition among businesses to attract new employees. Some companies have found it difficult to hire new workers as job openings have risen above the number of unemployed people.
Here’s what we learned in our survey of more than 1,000 American workers.
Many workers would prefer to stay with their current company in a new role (67%) than find a different company altogether. Most workers want at least a title change or raise when switching jobs or companies (68%), but almost as many would switch internally even if it’s a lateral move (19%) as those who would leave for a promotion or raise (20%).
According to MagnifyMoney executive editor Ismat Mangla, some employees prefer to stick with a company they know and like.
“If they’re happy where they work and like the company culture, it can be risky to sacrifice that for a new environment that may not be as palatable,” she says.
Higher income workers are more inclined to stay with their current employer, but even those making less than $35,000 annually would rather remain (60%) than leave. Some of these respondents may have recently started with a new employer, which could help explain why they’d prefer to switch roles internally than leave again.
A similar proportion of workers feel they have job security (66%). Of those who don’t, 16% felt secure before the possibility of a recession, 10% felt secure until the COVID-19 pandemic and 9% haven’t felt secure since before the pandemic. Workers with the lowest incomes feel the most precarity (as stated by 46% of them), with many living paycheck to paycheck. In addition, part-time workers are twice as likely as full-time employees to feel like they had job security before the pandemic but not since — 17% versus 8%.
Contrary to the Great Resignation narrative, MagnifyMoney found that most workers haven’t changed companies in the past two years.
Still, despite this finding, that narrative is most true among Gen Zers (ages 18 to 25). About half (49%) of Gen Zers have switched jobs in the past two years — the highest across any demographic.
The labor market changed significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment spiked and slowly receded to prepandemic levels, but the labor force participation rate — which tracks those working or actively looking for work — has remained low. While job quits are still at historical highs, only about 3% of workers voluntarily quit each month — a small fraction of the workforce.
The MagnifyMoney findings show that most workers aren’t looking for a new job. Only 17% of workers are actively applying for different jobs, and 13% are looking but not applying. That doesn’t mean a new employer couldn’t attract those workers, as 46% say they’d be open to a new job if the right opportunity presented itself. However, older workers and those with higher salaries are less likely to look around.
Even if a worker leaves a company, there’s a decent chance they may come back. MagnifyMoney found that 34% of workers have returned to an employer — led by people who make less than $35,000 a year and Gen Zers (both 38%).
When asked which matters more between a job title and salary, 83% of workers chose their salary. That percentage was slightly lower among younger generations — 80% of Gen Zers and 79% of millennials (ages 26 to 41) chose their salary, which can boost their savings accounts. But even if good wages are important, workers have additional priorities regarding their compensation packages and workplace conditions.
Standard benefits like retirement plan contributions and employer-sponsored health insurance plans are the most important benefits to workers (65% and 60%, respectively). Mangla suggests that employees should look at the whole picture — including those benefits — when negotiating a compensation package. Beyond those, workers tend to prioritize more intangible things, including work-life balance and company culture.
Among the other possible responses, Mangla thinks hybrid or fully remote positions are the way of the future. Many workers agree, with 34% mentioning remote work and 21% mentioning hybrid work.
“Hybrid and remote positions have changed the way people work, offering flexibility and the ability to have a balanced life,” she says. “Companies should embrace these models as much as possible.”
Most workers are uncomfortable speaking about their salaries with people outside their families, but younger workers are moving away from that norm.
Nearly half (46%) of Gen Z workers are comfortable talking about their pay with friends, and 29% are comfortable talking about it with co-workers in their department. In comparison, only 10% of baby boomers (ages 57 to 76) talk about salary with friends, and 3% talk to co-workers about it.
Click through the graphic below to see who different generations are comfortable talking to about their salaries.
Stories about the Great Resignation have sometimes focused on a lack of employee loyalty, but workers have found some potential employers to be disloyal themselves. A significant majority of Americans have never had a job offer rescinded (81%) — however, 9% of workers have had an offer pulled in the past year, while another 9% have had one pulled more than a year ago.
Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of people who make $100,000 or more a year have had a job offer pulled in the past year, followed by part-time workers with private companies (16%). Men are twice as likely as women to have had a job offer rescinded in the past year — 12% versus 6%.
Loyalty — and disloyalty, as well — can go both ways, though. Even if a worker accepts a job offer, there’s no guarantee they’ll show up on the first day: In fact, 15% of workers have no-showed a new job, including 20% of Gen Zers and 19% of millennials (and just 3% of baby boomers).
Workers and employers alike look out for their own interests, and they can both get burned during the recruitment process. By income level, workers with an income of $100,000 or more were the likeliest to have a job offer rescinded, as well as the likeliest to no-show on their first day.
As part of our survey, we asked workers how they approach the job application process. Half of workers submit cover letters even when not required, with 29% writing unique letters and 21% using generic ones. Nearly 1 in 10 workers (9%) won’t apply for a job that asks for a cover letter, which rises to 16% among baby boomers.
Notably, there’s an income divide among workers regarding cover letters: High income workers are more likely to voluntarily submit a cover letter (57%) or write a unique one (63%).
Mangla advises job applicants to write a concise cover letter explaining why they’re right for the job and what they can deliver.
MagnifyMoney also found that most job applicants (77%) use a standard resume while applying for jobs, rather than a creative template. Still, less than half of applicants (45%) customize the details of the resume based on the job they’re applying for.
Mangla recommends taking the time to tweak your resume to reflect experiences related to your potential role.
“Employers spend just a few seconds scanning resumes and cover letters — if you can stand out, you have a leg up,” she says.
Cover letters and resumes can play a larger role for the 71% of workers who say they’re only willing to do one to three interviews for a particular job. Another 9% say they’re willing to go through seven or more. Southern residents are more willing than any demographic to go through seven or more interviews, at 11%.
MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,027 U.S. workers ages 18 to 76 from July 8-15, 2022. The survey was administered using a nonprobability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.
We defined generations as the following ages in 2022: