Conditions for many years have favored employers over workers. A tight job market and high unemployment during the past 20 years created more potential candidates than positions. Employees held on tightly to their jobs, for fear of not finding work and the associated loss of income.

Things are changing dramatically. Many companies have more positions than candidates. With unemployment hitting an 18-year low this month, employees are suddenly in demand and they are on the move.

On the 4th of July, The Wall Street Journal reported more workers are quitting their jobs and taking advantage of the current labor market; a market that is placing priority on workers rather than employers. Further, Labor Department data shows 3.4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, twice the number of those laid off. The Bureau of Labor Statistics June 2018 report showed an increase of 213,000 jobs, well ahead of the projected increase of 195,000.

This trend holds in the security clearance job market, as well. Competition for talent is made even tighter by the reduction in the size of the cleared workforce, paired with wait times of one-to-two years for new security clearance determinations.

So, what?  Most managers have never experienced this environment. The lean availability of jobs from previous years has allowed some managers to pick up bad habits with regard to employee retention. For years, a significant number of employees have put up with uncaring bosses, inadequate pay, poor job growth and lingering discontent. Employers beware! With new jobs creation and soaring consumer confidence, employees now feel empowered to move on from stagnate or toxic environments and try something different.

Going Ghost: Candidates Walking Away

What are the effects on organizations? At an alarming rate, people are starting to vanish at work. This activity is sometimes referred to as “ghosting”.  Workers are simply finding something else, disappearing and moving on. The trend extends to the candidate and recruiter relationship. With the odds (and jobs) in their favor, candidates are increasingly simply failing to follow up or attend a scheduled interview. Candidates are obviously finding better deals, elsewhere.

Some employers are strategically aware of the current labor market trend and are taking proactive steps. According to Stephanie McGuinn of PI Midlantic, a predictive analysis consulting company, some corporations are trying to bolster commitment to counteract the current trend. Amazon has developed a unique retention strategy; offering full-time associates between $2,000 – $5000 to quit. Yes, you read that right. The program even has a name, “Paid-to-Quit”.  Amazon believes the strategy will enhance employee engagement and save money in the long term. It’s not the program’s intent to make employees work harder; but instead foster stronger commitment from employees staying with Amazon. The company hopes it will increase overall engagement by weeding out individuals who are on the fence about their position. It’s a bold move for a company already known for a high turnover rate.

As employers struggle with employee mobility, know that there are risks and rewards when moving on. Some will not find the grass greener on the other side. However, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, there is a potential earnings benefit for those deciding to make the jump. They determined that during the past 12 months, job-switchers have enjoyed an almost 30% greater annual pay increases than those staying in place.

How is your work life?

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at