Job Switchers Seek New Challenges Above All

More pay at bottom of list of main reasons for changing jobs

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer January 30, 2017

The desire for a new challenge is the top reason workers switch jobs, according to a survey conducted by executive search firm Korn Ferry International.

Nearly three-quarters of 1,958 respondents (73 percent) cited the lack of a challenge in their current role as the main reason why they would look for a new job in 2017. Other reasons given were not feeling recognized and not liking their employer (both at 9 percent), compensation that is too low (5 percent), and not liking their boss (4 percent).

Of those planning to seek a new job in 2017, most (76 percent) said that they would look for another job in their current career, while 13 percent said they would apply for a job in an entirely new career field.

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Kevin Cashman, a senior partner with Korn Ferry, said that the survey results mirror a series of studies he's seen that show that money tends not to be the main motivator for job switching.

"This is a clear signal for organizations. Offering challenging assignments and development opportunities to grow and learn are critical to keeping top-quality talent," he said. "Professionals who have progressed in their careers have done so for a reason … they're passionate about what they do and need to feel that they are being pushed professionally and continually learning new skills."

Vicki Swisher, senior talent development consultant at IMPACT Group, a career transitions firm based in Saint Louis, Mo., agreed that offering employees enriching opportunities pays off. "Providing experience for valuable on-the-job development such as stretch assignments and delegated responsibilities is critical to both skill growth and employee engagement," she said. "This is what will keep them by your side."

Eighty-two percent of survey respondents said they plan on participating in some kind of professional development or career advancement program this year. More than one-half (54 percent) said they plan on enrolling in classes to advance their education or career in 2017, and more than two-thirds (67 percent) said they plan on participating in employer-sponsored professional development programs.

Pay Still Important

The survey also found that respondents think 2017 is going to be bullish on bonuses. Three-fourths of respondents said they expect to get a bonus this year, and 55 percent said they think their bonus will be bigger than last year's.

"While the survey shows compensation is not on the top of the list for personal drivers in the workplace, it is still critical to retention," Cashman said. "Bonuses are a tangible way to reward professionals for a job well-done and should be considered in addition to promotions, development [opportunities] and a challenging work environment."

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