Addison Group’s Third Annual Workplace Survey Reveals Ambitious, Anxious Workforce

October 2016

Data shows career progression anxieties evident until retirement, with more than half of U.S. employees not confident they will be financially able to retire at the age they want

CHICAGO – October 25, 2016 – Addison Group (“Addison”), a leading provider of professional staffing services, today released the results of their third annual Workplace Survey that examines employees’ satisfaction with their jobs, career goals and professional values. In 2015 the Workplace Survey examined employees’ workplace preferences, career goals and professional values. This year, the survey focused on the full job lifecycle – from education to retirement – breaking down these insights based on gender and generation, and uncovered a motivated but cautious workforce.


“The latest edition of our Workplace Survey has enabled us to identify the challenges and anxieties employees face in their careers, from start to finish,” said Thomas Moran, CEO, Addison Group. “While job satisfaction is high across the board, the workforce has significant concerns around the value of additional education, the speed of career progression, the viability of management opportunities and their ability to retire. HR professionals’ ability to better understand the workforce and ongoing marketplace trends like these will enable them to best align their recruitment and retainment strategies with what opportunities top talent are looking for in their careers.”

Today’s employers understand that keeping their employees happy, through benefits, salary and work perks will ultimately benefit the company as a whole. Yet, even happy employees still experience the pressure of financial responsibilities and the desire for greater success in their career. While U.S. employees are generally satisfied at work and with their field today, over a quarter (29 percent) are not happy with their career progression and 41 percent believe they are not on the path to their dream job. In fact, the majority of U.S. employees (55%) are worried they should be doing more now to get where they want to be in the future. 

For some, that future planning includes advanced degrees with 62 percent of U.S. employees believing that getting an advanced degree is worth the money, bringing another factor into the career and financial planning equation. And thinking more long term, nearly half of U.S. employees (47%) believe they will have to retire at an age older than their parents. HR professionals need to acknowledge these anxieties, and address them through benefits packages and wellness offerings to maintain a happy workforce.

Women Lacking Confidence in Career Progressions

While a national conversation around gender equality in the workplace takes place, the survey found that one in three females (32 percent) are unhappy with their career progression in contrast to one in four (25 percent) males who feel the same. The data also shows 37 percent of women believe being a manager has the potential to advance their career, and 51 percent are interested in becoming a manager. Yet, only 39 percent of women currently manage others, which is significantly lower than the 60 percent of men.

The gender gap in the workplace is not something that will solve itself overnight, but HR professionals need to be conscious of how they might best support their female employees in their career endeavors.

The Generation Breakdown

Similar to the gender gap, Addison Group’s survey found a generational gap exists as well. Older generations tend to be more content in their field of work, with 82 percent of Baby Boomers reporting they are happy in their field whereas only 74 percent of Millennials agree.

Millennials continue to show enthusiasm for management opportunities, as 67 percent want to be a manager, while only 58 percent of the broader workforce is looking for this opportunity. The positive view of management and desire to lead is a driving force in career progression, which bodes well for this generation as they rise the ranks. Millennials may be eager, but the majority of U.S. employees have the perception that Millennials are entitled (60%), less loyal to companies (69%) and expect more to come to them rather than earn it (72%).

Managing across generations continues to be a challenge for HR professionals, and can be achieved through open dialogue and honest conversations about career progression.

Money Matters

Gender and generation aside, salary matters most in a job to all employees, period. The top reason for U.S. employees leaving their last job was not making enough money, coupled with the fact that high salary is the biggest driving factor in influencing employees to work at their current job.

While not making enough money was ranked the number one reason for leaving the last job (43%), not enjoying the work they were doing (32%) and problems with management (29%) were ranked as numbers two and three. On the flip side, great work-life balance (43%) and strong benefits (42%) were the number two and number three influence on U.S. employees’ decisions to work at their current job.

HR professionals should acknowledge the importance of salary from the outset, both in their counsel to employers and their recruitment of top talent. It’s also worth noting that after salary, benefits and work perks are key factors in bringing in the best employees. Of course, strong leadership and management can contribute to retaining those employees.

The Advanced Degree Dilemma

The conversation of whether or not an advanced degree will help you get ahead is relevant in every industry. The majority of U.S. employees (62%) perceive advanced degrees as being worth the money invested, and perhaps unsurprisingly, 80 percent of employees who went for the advanced degree believe that to be true.

When it comes to those with hiring responsibilities, while 79 percent agree that candidates with advanced degrees have a greater chance of being brought in for an interview, 68 percent agree that the degree does not mean as much as other factors in an interview. Yet, two out of three of those respondents would be more likely to hire a candidate with an advanced degree. So, ultimately, the advanced degree does hold value in the workplace.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that over 85 percent of U.S. employees with an advanced degree feel it has helped them advance their career and their job performance.

Worries over Retirement

The advanced degrees and importance of salary all ladder back to planning for retirement at the end of a career. Addison Group’s survey revealed there is concern surrounding employee’s retirement outlook, with 51 percent of U.S. employees not confident they will be able to financially retire when they want.

The preparedness for retirement is a significantly larger concern with women as 43 percent are confident in their financial ability to retire, versus 55 percent of men who feel similarly. There are generation gaps in the sentiment towards retirement as well, with young Millennials (61%) feeling the most confident they will be able to financially retire when they want. In contrast, the older generations of Gen X (50%) and Baby Boomers (55%) think they will retire at an age older than their parents. HR professionals can help manage these concerns with financial planning workshops, online seminars and providing consultants to help employees best understand their retirement options.

Addison Group commissioned a 15-minute online survey among a nationally-representative sample of 1,407 full-time and part-time U.S. employees. The margin of error for this sample is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence level. The survey was fielded between April 25 and April 30, 2016 and conducted by Edelman Intelligence, a full-service consumer research firm. As a member of CASRO in good standing, Edelman Intelligence conducts all research in accordance with Market Research Standards and Guidelines.

About Addison Group

Addison Group is a leading provider of professional staffing and search services.  Bringing the best to the best, Addison combines a national network and localized service for broad reach with a personal touch.  Specialized practices deliver the right candidate at the right time in Information Technology, Finance & Accounting, Healthcare, Executive Search, HR & Administrative, and Engineering. Addison has received Inavero’s Best of Staffing award for the past six years.  Learn more at www.addisongroup.com. 

Media Contact:
Martha Kelley Sams
Addison Group
312.424.0300
mk.sams@addisongroup.com