Worker Intent to Stay Keeps Declining, Says Gartner Report

With U.S. unemployment rates remaining at historic lows, and more jobs available than there are people to fill them, U.S. workers are leveraging healthy economic conditions to become more active in their job searches, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner’s 3Q18 Global Talent Monitor report shows that only 53 percent of workers worldwide have a high or somewhat high intent to stay in their current positions, compared to 60 percent of workers in 1Q18 who held that same positive intent. This latest data marks the fifth consecutive quarter that intent to stay has declined globally.

The latest Global Talent Monitor report also highlighted the continued decline of U.S. employees going above and beyond at work. In 3Q18, only 16.3 percent of U.S. workers expressed high levels of discretionary effort – a decline of nearly 8 percent year-over-year, and the largest year-over-year decrease of the 26 global regions surveyed. Just 7.5 percent of the global labor force reported both high discretionary effort and a high intent to stay at their current employer.

“We are continuing to witness a multi-year decline in employee discretionary effort both in the U.S. and globally, as workers are simply not seeing rewards from their employers for going above and beyond,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president of Gartner’s HR practice. “Ultimately, employees are capitalizing on the realities of the tight labor market – workers don’t see benefits for offering additional effort nor are they worried about getting penalized for doing less. The surplus of jobs open in the market is bolstering employee confidence as workers believe they can easily find another position.”

Employee Expectations Grow for Base and Merit Pay

Another indication of economic conditions influencing employee behavior comes from wages and bonuses. Gartner’s Global Talent Monitor data shows an increase in workers’ expectations for 2019 salaries and 2018 bonuses. Base pay expectations jumped nearly a full percentage point from last quarter, with workers expecting a wage increase of 3.9 percent in 2019 and anticipating bonus and merit payouts 3.8 percent larger than the previous year.

“Given strong economic performance across many U.S. industries in 2018, employees hold much higher expectations for greater increases in wages and bonuses going into 2019,” said Mr. Kropp. “As companies approach compensation planning for next year, executives will need to factor in these employee expectations to remain competitive and to attract and retain talent, otherwise they risk losing their best workers to competitors.”

Strategies to Attract, Motivate, and Retain Talent

Gartner recommends that employers should establish strategies to better engage their current workforce while attracting new talent. Companies that deploy a robust Employee Value Proposition (EVP) are able to distinguish themselves from the competition and better address what employees desire most, such as competitive wages, career development opportunities, work-life balance and workplace stability.

“To develop the strongest possible workforce, companies will need to focus on the attributes which propel their employment brand above the competition,” added Mr. Kropp. “Doing so can increase employee engagement levels, lower attrition rates, and offer what workers value most to retain and attract talent. These levers impact the bottom line – our data shows that organizations with high levels of employee engagement report financial outcomes three times higher than firms with lower engagement levels.”

Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from the larger Gartner Global Labor Market Survey that is sourced from more than 22,000 employees in 40 countries. The survey is conducted quarterly and is reflective of market conditions during the quarter preceding publication.

About Gartner for HR Leaders

Gartner for HR Leaders brings together the best, relevant content approaches across Gartner to offer individual decision makers strategic business advice on the mission-critical priorities that cut across the HR function. Additional information is available at

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