While 2020 was an unprecedented year in the business world, 2021 shows no signs of letting up soon.
In fact, an even larger percent of corporate employees may find themselves shuffling their employment this year. Not due to lay offs, economic uncertainty and rapidly shifting life situations — as was the case last year — but due to personal choice.
According to Prudential Financial’s Pulse of the American Worker survey
, one in four employees is planning to look for a new job when they feel COVID is no longer impacting the economy. 72% of them say it's because the pandemic has caused them to rethink their skillsets, and the study shows that about half of them have done skills trainings during the pandemic to prepare to switch roles. 80% of survey respondents also said they were looking for more growth opportunities — they didn't want to feel stagnant after a year evaluating their priorities.
But there was one factor that even survey respondents who didn't plan to leave their job in 2021 said would force them to reconsider.
"Even among those who aren’t considering changing jobs, half of people currently working remotely say if their current company doesn’t continue to offer remote-work options long-term, they’ll look for a job at a company that does," CNBC said in their coverage of the study. In other words, 50% of remote workers say they will find a new job that allows them similar (or greater) flexibility if they're forced to go back into the office.
Across the board, this job-hopping behavior mirrors that of 2019, when employees were switching jobs at record rates and career services professionals were fighting a "battle for talent." But new expectations from employees seem to supersede those in 2019. The curtain has been pulled back on traditional corporate life, and workers are expecting more from their employers. After a year of remote work, flexible work or no work at all, many workers have created a new life with a new set of priorities. But they've also learned something important: They can do their jobs in a way that works for them without the business crashing. Their employers allowing them to do just that has become a question of convenience, but also of ethics. Suddenly, the power dynamic of employer versus employed is center stage, in an age where mutual respect and consideration is touted on every employer's Instagram.
This puts pressure on many employers to get things right — putting employee desires at the forefront of any "return to work" plans, from office reopenings to compensation packages. Companies are sending office reopening surveys, increasing wages for hourly employees and offering referral bonuses left and right. Still, others have already announced returns to work that look like 2019 policies, resurrected. They've pointed out the unconscious biases that come with remote work in a culture that is still very productivist, post-pandemic or not, and the connectivity issues that being digital-only presents.
And it's worth noting that not everyone has had the privilege to work remote at all, much less job hop, allowing for there often being someone else to hire without the perks. Around 6% of Americans remain unemployed, and many have worked from restaurants, grocery stores, doctors offices and other frontline spaces. Derek Avery
, a University of Houston professor in industrial/organizational psychology who spoke to CNBC, says "'the notion of jumping ship to get other offers and increase your market value tends to work better for members of dominant groups' including white men, but less so for women and minorities." In other words, income and flexibility may continue to grow for some but not others.
As we learned in 2020, no one knows for sure what the workplace will look like a year from now, but a lot of movement is sure to happen in the coming months.
This article does not reflect the views of Fairygodboss.