1 in 4 consumers surveyed globally plan to switch employers in 2021

A new study from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) revealed that one in four consumers surveyed globally plan to switch employers in 2021.

Even as the economy saw the loss of global working hours equivalent to 255 million full-time employees in 2020,* the study shows voluntary job changes and skills development are still top of mind in today’s labor market as employees may be seeking career changes due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The study of more than 14,000 adults globally also showed that many of those who voluntarily made job changes in 2020 may be on the move again in 2021 for many of the same reasons. Findings included:

  • One in five employees surveyed voluntarily switched employers in 2020. Of those surveyed who said they switched employers, more than half were generation Z (ages 18-24) (33%) and millennials (ages 25-39) (25%). 
  • Of the 28% of surveyed employees who plan to switch employers in 2021, the need for a more flexible work schedule or location and increased benefits and support for their well-being were cited as top reasons why. 
  • 1 in 4 surveyed employees indicated they plan to switch occupations in 2021.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed employees’ expectations of their employers, and leaders should take a more empathetic and personalized approach to attracting and retaining talent, especially for Gen Z and Millennial candidates and employees who may be more likely to make voluntary employer or occupation changes,” said Amy Wright, managing partner, IBM Talent & Transformation. “That can include developing tailored learning plans and career paths for employees, fostering inclusive and flexible cultures and removing bias in hiring with the help of technologies like AI.”

Employees want work-life balance and career advancement opportunities 
Work-life balance and career advancement opportunities topped the list of attributes surveyed consumers said were important for their employer to provide. More than 40% of consumers surveyed also said the ethics and values of their employer were important to engage them, and 36% of consumers surveyed said they valued continuous learning opportunities. 

A perception gap exists between employers and employees on their skills
According to a 2019 IBV study on the global skills gap, 45% of organizations surveyed shared that they can’t find the skills they need. However, the IBV study released today showed greater confidence from workers, with 87% of employees surveyed believing they already have the necessary skills to meet their job/employment goals in 2021. Despite this confidence, most employees are still planning to pursue paths to grow their skills for the future.  

  • 58% of consumers surveyed said that they plan to take continuing education courses this year, mostly online versus in person. 
  • 25% percent of consumers surveyed indicated their reskilling or upskilling goals for 2021 included enrollment in a formal degree, certification or badging program. 
  • Approximately 30% of generation Z and 30% of millennial respondents surveyed said they’ll enroll in a formal degree, certification or badging program, which were the largest percentages compared to other generation groups surveyed. 
  • More than 1 in 4 generation Z respondents surveyed say they’ll pursue an apprentice opportunity, which was the largest percentage compared to other generation groups surveyed.

Read the full study


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