- Changing jobs during the pandemic paid off for some workers — literally. A Conference Board survey of more than 2,600 U.S. workers found that nearly a third of employees who left their organization during the pandemic now make over 30% more than they did in their previous roles, while 20% received a modest 10% to 20% increase.
- Slightly more women than men saw the highest increases, but overall, 70% of men saw a pay increase of more than 10%, compared to 64% of women. Senior leaders were also the most likely category of respondents to see increases of 30% or more. Aside from pay, respondents also cited career advancement, flexibility and disappointment with their current roles as reasons for leaving.
- Despite the increases, 62% of respondents said they were concerned to some degree about whether their wages would keep up with inflation. Millennials were more likely to agree with this sentiment, though more than half of both Generation X and baby boomer respondents said the same.
Employers generally made clear their intention to raise pay going into 2022, with one mid-2021 Willis Towers Watson survey finding average planned increases of 3% for higher-up positions and 2.8% for production and manual labor employees, with even larger increases for top performers.
Likewise, a 2021 Robert Half survey of senior managers found more than half said their organizations increased starting salaries to attract new hires during the first half of 2022, while 44% said the same of signing bonuses.
But employees are not alone in their concerns about pay keeping pace with inflation. Poll data published in January by WorldatWork showed represented organizations had increased their salary budget by an average of 4% in 2021. But the association's HR management respondents said this was lower than the increases needed to retain and attract talent.
What's more, increased compensation in the general labor market has not ended employers' talent woes. In the pandemic-driven environment, flexible work arrangements are often next on the list, even though workers may not necessarily agree on which types of arrangements work best for them.
"While competitive compensation remains important, workers' priorities have shifted: Flexibility is now table stakes," Rebecca Ray, The Conference Board's executive vice president of human capital, said in a statement. "Workers clearly value their time, as well as the core benefits employers provide. Fostering professional growth and providing flexibility where possible are just as important to retaining talented workers as ensuring that employees are well-compensated."
Where arrangements like remote or hybrid work are less feasible, other options may still exist. Last month, one construction industry executive said construction workers also might pursue better work environments that provide greater respect as well as opportunities. Training and education benefits also continue to make waves in the talent market. Last week, Amazon announced that its hourly employees would have access to a fully-funded college education.
Employers might pursue new employment models and programs to draw out talent from previously untapped areas. Returnships, which allow workers to return to work after an extended absence from the labor market, are one such model. Global firm Schneider Electric previously spoke with HR Dive about its use of mid-career internships to target such workers.