Job market mayhem: Workers start getting the ‘itch’ to find another gig after just 18 months

LONDON — So much for putting down roots with a particular company. A new poll finds the average worker starts getting “itchy feet” and looks for a new job after just 18 months with their current employer. The survey of 5,000 employed adults reveals that this is the average point when employees come to realize exactly what their job prospects are and whether it’s time to start thinking about new opportunities.

Not being valued for their contributions, feeling like they’re underpaid, and deteriorating working conditions are among the leading causes that lead people to quit. Nearly one in five (18%) also experience job doubt when they find themselves working too many hours.

3 in 4 think they made the right move by quitting

Once these workers start to develop feelings of frustration, they ramp up their job search, on average, within four months. It typically takes just over three months to land a new position. Thankfully, over three-quarters (79%) of those who left their jobs after getting itchy feet felt they definitely made the right move, with only three percent saying the grass really wasn’t greener on the other side.

“Once the honeymoon period of a new job is over, it’s possible that you realize it wasn’t quite the right fit for you all along,” says Doug Rode, UK&I managing director at global recruitment specialist Michael Page, which commissioned the research, in a statement.

“When these thoughts start to manifest, it is only a matter of time before something has to give. There is nothing worse than being miserable in your job, so unhappy workers should address any concerns with their employer and attempt to find a solution,” Rode adds.

“If feelings of frustration or unhappiness persist, perhaps it’s the right time to take rational action and embrace a new challenge. The fact that just three percent of respondents thought they were worse off in a new role after acting on itchy feet should empower people to make a positive career change.”

1 in 5 already want to quit their job this year

The survey also finds 22 percent of workers are planning on seeking new employment within the first half of 2023. Nearly 23 percent want to pursue different opportunities and 21 percent feel like they have hit a ceiling with how far they can progress in their current role.

An additional 19 percent are disgruntled about their current circumstances because there’s been no pay rise within the last 12 months. On the other hand, 28 percent of employees have had a welcome increase in their pay within the last three months, as the cost of living has continued to squeeze household finances. However, 36 percent admit they are still concerned about their future finances despite having some more disposable income.

A further 28 percent claim their income just about covers their expenses. Despite many having concerns about their finances, over half the poll (54%) say they are not worried about layoffs in the new year.

What do workers want as perks?

The research, conducted by OnePoll, also quizzed employees about the perks they look for when on the job hunt – with the most popular (39%) being shorter hours on Fridays. More than one in three (35%) want to join an employer which offers opportunities to train, while a well-designed and equipped office environment is a bonus for 28 percent of prospective employees.

When it comes to benefits within their contract, 52 percent want a minimum of 28 vacation days and 46 percent want a competitive company pension plan. Another 43 percent want hybrid, flexible, and remote working policies, and 27 percent want good parental or family leave policies.

“Identifying what workers prioritize when looking for a new role is a useful tool for any company seeking not only to hire top talent but also retain their own,” Rode says.

“Businesses need to ensure that their contractual benefits are fit for the modern working world – and that their ‘nice to have’ perks reflect the new, post-pandemic desires of workers across the country. From early finish Fridays and significant annual leave allowance through to staying competitive when it comes to pensions, there are numerous ways that employers can attract talent. Thinking outside the box can be a great way to have an edge over the competition but often it’s a case of getting the basics spot on and always keeping your benefits refreshed and up to date.”

Top 10 Reasons Workers Start Looking For New Jobs:

  1. Not being valued for their contributions
  2. Being underpaid
  3. Working conditions starting to deteriorate
  4. Finding work too stressful
  5. Job isn’t quite like how they expected when they accepted the job
  6. Want to pursue different opportunities
  7. Working too many hours
  8. Feeling like they have hit a ceiling with how far they can progress
  9. Don’t agree with changes being made from the top
  10. Work is no longer challenging

72Point writer Oliver Lewis contributed to this report.