Work-life ‘fit’ a top reason employees are staying at jobs

Despite the uncertain job market, the top reasons Americans are staying with their current employment are work-life “fit” and enjoying what they do, according to a recent American Psychological Association survey. Notable differences exist across gender lines or age categories, and a majority does still cite pay and benefits as a factor, but having a job that meshes well with other life demands remains hugely important to U.S. workers.

Some 59% of those with jobs report staying because of salary and 60% because of benefits, according to the APA, but 67% say they’re sticking with their current employer because they enjoy the work, and the same percentage pointed to work-life fit. Even with unemployment high, only 39% of respondents said a lack of available jobs contributes to them staying where they are.

“Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives,” says David W. Ballard, head of the APA’s psychologically healthy workplace program. “To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits.

“Today, top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life,” Ballard says.

More women than men cited enjoying the work (72% versus 63%) and work-life fit (72% versus 62%), the APA says. Closer numbers are seen for benefits (61% and 59%), while fewer women than men point to pay (57% versus 62%) or their job affording them the opportunity to make a difference (49% versus 52%).

The survey was conducted this year among more than 1,200 Americans ages 18 and older with either full-time or part-time jobs. Those ages 18 to34 were the most likely to endorse coworkers (57%) or managers (46%) as reasons to stay.

Those age 55 or more were by far the most likely to mention enjoying the work, at 80%, but they were also the most likely to say that feeling connected to the organization or having the chance to make an impact kept them at their jobs, at 63% and 57%, respectively.

Among the APA’s survey’s others findings:

  • Women were more likely than men to bring up connections with coworkers (55% versus 48%), managers (46% versus34%) or the organization as a whole (59% versus 53%).
  • Respondents age 35 to44 were the most likely, at 67%, to cite pay.
  • Those planning to stay with their current employers for more than two years said the biggest factors to keep them put were enjoying the work, work-life fit and feeling connected to the group.
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