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Feature Story

September 2019

Gartner: More U.S. Employees Intend to Stay Put

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There is evidence that employees are beginning to feel less confident in the labor market, with more than 53% of U.S. workers indicating they intend to stay with their current employer in the second quarter of 2019—a 10% increase over the first quarter and the first time ever that a majority of the U.S. workforce has reported an intent to stay put.

This latest data from Gartner's 2Q19 Global Talent Monitor report showed that this record-high intent to stay coincides with other workplace indicators that reflect definitive changes in employees' perceptions of and behaviors within the U.S. labor market.

"Over the previous several years, the clear story within the U.S. has been a robust economy, tight labor market and plenty of opportunities for growth and improvement from the employee perspective," said Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice. "With this quarter-over-quarter increase in intent to stay, we are now seeing a shift as employees hunker down, indicating concerns around available job opportunities and potential weakness in the labor market."

In 2Q19, only 12.5% of U.S. workers indicated they were actively looking for another job—well below the global average of 20.2% and a significant drop from almost 25% of workers in 1Q19. The second quarter of 2019 also witnessed a 2.4% decline in employees' business confidence, with the global business confidence index measuring at its lowest point since 3Q16.

Job opportunity perceptions across all major economies also fell in 2Q19, noting employees' decreased perception of options for employment in their locations, functions and industries.

The number of U.S. employees who expressed a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty at their jobs also increased notably quarter over quarter. In 2Q19, more that 21% of U.S. workers reported high discretionary effort on the job, significantly greater than the international average of nearly 17% and rising above 20% for the first time in the United States since 1Q18.

"Workers appear to be putting more time and effort into their current positions with the hopes of solidifying their roles in case of a change in the economy," said Kropp. "This situation creates an opportunity for organizations to invest in internal training programs that capture this employee commitment to build a stronger, more productive workforce."

As the U.S. labor market continues to experience unemployment of less than 4% and more job openings exist than people seeking them, companies remain challenged to attract talent. With more workers now planning to stay in their current positions, employers need to develop programs that engage existing and future employees, recognize hard work and accomplishments, and deliver rewards that workers value most.

To establish the best chances for success in the workplace, Gartner recommends companies develop a strong employee value proposition (EVP) that focuses on the key things employees want from their employer, including compensation and competitive benefits, development and future career opportunities, corporate culture and work-life balance.

"Investing in and delivering a strong EVP enables companies to raise employee engagement levels, helping to retain talent and potentially decrease annual employee turnover by 69%," Kropp added. "A robust EVP also allows organizations to reach deeper into the labor market to attract the right candidates."