Far Fewer U.S. Employees Are Job Hunting

More U.S. employees plan to keep the jobs they have — and are putting in extra effort — as confidence in the U.S. labor market weakens.

More than 53% of U.S. employees said they intend to stay at their current job when surveyed by Gartner in 2Q19. That’s up from 43% in 1Q19, and represents the first time that a majority of U.S. employees plan to stay put. U.S. intent to stay is also well above the global average of nearly 40%, according to 2Q19 Gartner Global Talent Monitor (GTM) data.

This behavior shift coincides with declining employee confidence in near-term business conditions and long-term economic prospects and employees’ weakening perceptions of the availability and quality of other employment opportunities in their location, industry and function. 

This reflects a mindset shift among employees who are choosing to hunker down amid concerns around available job opportunities

“Our 2Q19 data shows that about 12% of U.S. employees were actively seeking employment. That’s well below the global average of 20%, and a significant drop from almost 25% in 1Q19,” says Brian Kropp, Distinguished Vice President, Gartner. “This reflects a mindset shift among employees who are choosing to hunker down amid concerns around available job opportunities and potential weakness in the labor market.”

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Discretionary effort rises with intent to stay

At the same time, 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 than 21% of U.S. workers reported high discretionary effort on the job — above 20% for the first time since 1Q18 and significantly more than the international average of nearly 17%. 

Nearly 15% of the U.S. workforce could be described as engaged in 2Q19 — reporting both high discretionary effort and high intent to stay.

“Employees 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,” says 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.”

Also notable in 2Q19

  • The global business confidence index dropped to its lowest point since 3Q16, with employee business confidence declining 2.4% in 2Q19.
  • Employees in all five regions (Asia, North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia and New Zealand) perceived fewer job opportunities in the second quarter of 2019 than the first quarter of 2019 but they are more invested in their work. 
  • Globally, compensation, work-life balance and stability in the workplace remain the top three drivers of talent attraction, while compensation, career development opportunities and people management remain the top drivers of attrition. 
  • Employees in the U.S. reported compensation, location and health benefits as their top priorities when considering a new job.

About the Gartner Global Talent Monitor

Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from the larger Gartner Global Labor Market Survey that is sourced from more than 40,000 employees in 40 countries and regions. Conducted quarterly, the survey reflects market conditions during the quarter preceding publication. The job opportunity barometer uses five survey questions to measure employees’ perceptions of the availability and quality of other employment opportunities in their current locations, industries and functions.

  • Discretionary effort refers to employees’ willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, such as helping others with heavy workloads, volunteering for additional duties and looking for ways to perform the job more efficiently.
  • Intent to stay refers to employees’ desire to stay with the organization based on whether they intend to look for a new job within a year, frequently think of quitting, have actively been looking for a new job, or have taken steps such as placing phone calls and sending out résumés.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.


Gartner for HR clients can read the Gartner Global Talent Monitor 2Q19 Update, and more about the key components of employee experience and HR’s key initiatives for 2019 and beyond.

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