SAN FRANCISCO — SAN FRANCISCO - Inspired by an improving job market and tired of years of productivity gains wrought on their backs, almost half of U.S. workers are ready to jump ship at the next opportunity, according to a recent poll.
Forty-seven percent of workers are currently looking for another job or plan to look within the next 12 months, according to the online poll of about 2,600 workers conducted by Web portal Yahoo.
Yahoo's HotJobs, an employment search Web site, did not run the poll to avoid skewing the results toward those already actively seeking work.
"It's been more of an employer's market for the last couple years. A lot of employees have been feeling overextended and under appreciated," said Marc Karasu, vice president of marketing at Yahoo HotJobs.
"Now that we're beginning to see the first glimmers of potentially a reversal in the economy and more hiring starting to pick up, it's logical to take it to the next level. These employees who are feeling oppressed are starting to feel empowered and are starting to look at options and see what's out there," Karasu said.
The Labor Department reported a gain of 112,000 jobs in June. About 1.2 million jobs have been created so far in 2004.
Workers' hankering for a change is a warning sign for employers, Karasu said: "Companies ... don't want to turn around with an improved economy and all of a sudden find their best people have jumped ship."
For some, the poll is simply a safe forum to vent their unhappiness, but the high percentage of workers who said they want to move on is telling.
"You always have disgruntled people that are just perpetually unhappy, but a lot of people have felt locked into their roles because of the economy. Now, more opportunity gives them more flexibility," Karasu said.
Other studies support the notion that workers aren't happy.
A Spherion Employment Solutions study found that employees gave companies a B+ rating for culture and work environment, one of the top aspects of employee retention, and a C- rating for their compensation practices, another key retention driver.
Years of slow wage growth appear to be grating on workers: 49 percent in the Yahoo poll said they were leaving their current job because they felt they could get a better salary elsewhere. Real hourly wages are up just 0.2 percent in the past year.
In another sign that workers are unhappy, 34 percent of workers either weren't sure they would recommend their employer to others or would definitely not do so, according to the poll.
Forty-five percent cited a lack of potential for career growth in their current workplace as a reason for leaving, and 36 percent were in search of a better benefits package.
Among workers who don't intend to leave their jobs, 51 percent said they were staying because of a good benefits package, 46 percent pointed to a flexible work schedule and 43 percent said they had an easy commute.