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Majority of workers are looking for new jobs during Covid-19 pandemic. Here's why

Key Points
  • As Covid-19 cases continue rising, a majority of U.S.-based workers are looking for new job opportunities, a Ceridian study finds.
  • Younger workers are the most likely to be on the move in their careers.
  • But there are significant costs for employers, as talent expects a raise in order to change roles, and they say pay is the top factor in applying for jobs.
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As Covid-19 cases continue rising at a faster pace throughout the U.S., it is becoming more likely that many employees will continue working remotely well into 2021, even with a vaccine on the horizon. For a majority of the workforce, the remote jobs may be new ones, too.

Sixty-four percent of American workers say they are looking for new job opportunities or will consider moving jobs if approached by another company, according to a new study from Ceridian, a human resources software and services firm. The study found that it's younger workers who are most likely to be on the move across the country, with 76% of those under the age of 30 either looking or open to new opportunities.

"In order to be able to retain their employees during this time, employers need to make sure they're allowing their employees to have a development program that ensures their skill sets are constantly being upgraded and developed," said Susan Tohyama, chief human resources officer for Ceridian and member of the CNBC Workforce Executive Council.

Tohyama had the unique experience of being named CHRO in late March, shortly after much of society began working remotely. "The nature of the workforce is changing," she said. "Employees are not necessarily looking at a traditional career path ... now they're looking for experience equity in their careers."

Still, many are looking to stay longer once they find the job they want in the pandemic era. Sixty-four percent of U.S.-based respondents to the survey say job security is a bigger factor now when considering a move, according to the Ceridian survey, which was conducted by Nielsen among 5,010 respondents in Canada, U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand between Aug. 4 and Aug. 27.

"It's really fascinating how employees are looking to move jobs, but when they move jobs the same percentage [64%] are looking for stability," Tohyama said. "So, they want to have a stable organization, but they also want to make sure they're growing and changing within that organization."

Work from home: Here to stay?

Remote work could be here to stay, despite recent optimism that we'll see some return to normalcy surrounding this week's announcement from drug maker Pfizer that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infections. A Deutsche Bank survey found more than half of workers wanted to continue working from home for as many as two to three days a week after the pandemic. The migration to remote work could be so significant that a Deutsche Bank economist this week proposed the idea of a 5% tax on remote workers.

Embracing Remote Work: Meet the Oracles
Embracing Remote Work: Meet the Oracles

"I think there's going to be much more of a hybrid," said Tohyama. "My feeling is that we will not go back to five days a week. I think we have shown that companies that are digital-first and agile enough to do it, can get work done, be incredibly productive, communicate and be flexible from a virtual-first environment ... The C-suite is really going to have to understand that."

Covid has created a democratized conversation, allowing talent to come to employers and ask, "What is your stance on workplace flexibility?" said Darren Murph, head of remote at GitLab, a 1,300-employee company that has been fully remote since Day One. "This is a question that was largely not asked ... but coming out of this they will be democratized and the best companies will have a great answer. You have to have a great answer," he said.

But that doesn't mean the inevitability of flexible arrangements in companies' post-pandemic policies are going to get any less expensive.

There are significant costs involved for employers looking to hire the best talent available. According to Ceridian, the cost of onboarding a new employee can range from $2,000 to $4,000, while the report showed U.S. talent expects a raise of 29% in order to change roles.

PayPal CEO and president Daniel Schulman said two thirds of entry-level and call center employees revealed in a survey that they were living paycheck to paycheck with about 4% to 6% disposable income, money left over after taxes and essential living expenses.

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Putting big ideas into action: How PayPal is rethinking capitalism and making it work

"This was a real wakeup call for us. It was like wow, capitalism is not working for this segment of the population," Schulman said Thursday at the CNBC Workforce Executive Council virtual summit. "Its an investment in your employees, but what is the payback for that? The payback is there is much less attrition, much less absenteeism, much more engagement and pride in terms of what they're doing and in terms of the success of the company."

The new Ceridian study also revealed that pay is the top factor that entices talent to apply for a role, followed by good work-life balance, and the overall work environment. However, when asked what was the most important factor that keeps workers with their employer, engaging work topped the list.

"You can see people understanding that the world is getting faster," said Tohyama. "Companies that are going to attract and retain their talent are going to have to be agile and adept at doing that ... allowing for employees to really have those learning or project-based opportunities within a company."

This year has proven that work can be done from anywhere, at any time. Heightened connectivity is critical, and the growth of 5G elevates organizational connectivity to revolutionize work across entire industries, around the globe. Join the CNBC @Work Spotlight event on December 10 to hear from business leaders prepared to propel into this new, transformative era of work and innovation.