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Press Release

Workers Who Jumped Ship During COVID Are Now Regretting It


The Great Resignation saw workers quit their jobs in droves—but many are now regretting it. A new survey of US workers reveals those who changed jobs since the pandemic are significantly less satisfied with their jobs than their colleagues who stayed.

What’s causing job hoppers to regret their decision? The Conference Board survey found that leadership and culture saw the greatest gaps in satisfaction between the job switchers and job stayers.

But aside from “people issues” moving the needle, money also matters: Higher wages enticed many to take new jobs in the COVID-era, but those who switched jobs now report less satisfaction with wages. This is possibly due to inflation taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks.

While overall job satisfaction remained virtually unchanged—ticking up 0.4 points to 62.7%—every individual driver of job satisfaction declined. The largest declines were primarily in financial benefits such as bonuses, hard base benefits, wages, and promotions—underscoring the sting of stubborn inflation.

“After more than a decade trending upwards, overall US worker job satisfaction may have finally plateaued,” said Allan Schweyer, Principal Researcher, Human Capital, The Conference Board. “To avoid declining job satisfaction, leaders should maintain or improve key drivers such as flexible work arrangements and career development opportunities while ensuring that wages and core benefits remain competitive.”

Key findings include:

The grass isn’t always greener. Workers who changed jobs since the pandemic began are far less satisfied.

  • Workers who left their jobs since the pandemic’s onset are much more dissatisfied than those who didn’t. 
  • Job switchers’ overall job satisfaction is down 5.6 percentage points—a big decline. 
  • Driving the dissatisfaction: leadership quality, communications, interest in the work, co-workers, job security. 

Newer workers are also less satisfied.

  • Overall satisfaction was lowest among those who worked in their current job between 6 months and 3 years. 
  • Almost half of those who said they intended to leave their jobs within 6 months were workers in their jobs for fewer than 3 years.
  • They expressed greater intent to leave within the next 6 months due largely to dissatisfaction with bonuses, promotions, training, recognition, and performance reviews.

Staying put has its benefits: Once an employee hits the three-year mark, satisfaction increases substantially. 

  • Satisfaction rose from 58.2% to 63.6% once an employee met the three-year threshold. 
  • Satisfaction continued to increase until employees reached the 10-year mark. 

Has job satisfaction finally plateaued? Every single driver of satisfaction declined.

  • Sentiment declined across all 26 components of job satisfaction, compared to 2022.  
  • Overall satisfaction remains virtually unchanged—ticking up 0.4 points to 62.7%.

Workers feel the bite of inflation.

  • The largest declines in satisfaction were primarily in financial benefits such as bonuses, hard base benefits, wages, and promotions. 

The least satisfied group is fully on-site workers. The hybrid model wins the day.

  • Fully on-site workers reported the lowest job satisfaction at 60.2%.
  • Satisfaction for fully remote workers was 64.1%.
  • Overall job satisfaction for hybrid workers was 65.5%. 

Women are far less satisfied than men.

  • For the 6th year in a row, women are significantly less satisfied across almost all 26 job satisfaction components surveyed.  
  • The largest gaps between men and women were related to wages, bonuses, potential for growth, health benefits (including mental health policies), and retirement plans. 

Workers are placing a bigger premium on culture and work experience than before.

  • While wages and key benefits remain vital to job satisfaction, in 2023 workers were more focused on positive work culture and experience than they were the previous year.

“This year’s survey results indicates that job satisfaction is about so much more than wages,” said Diana Scott, US Human Capital Center Leader, The Conference Board. “While wages and key benefits still matter, workers were more focused on positive work culture and experience. Provided pay and benefits are competitive, leaders will gain the most by offering strong growth opportunities, quality leadership, and work-life balance.” 

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Joseph DiBlasi