American workers are less committed to their employers than they were a year ago and more than half of them would switch jobs for a 20% or less pay increase, according to a new survey released Monday.
The biggest declines in commitment were among employees in high technology and workers 31 and younger, the study by Aon Consulting found.
"The first loyalty of employees today is to 'Me, Incorporated,' " said David Stum, a consultant who helped design the study. "Today's workers are more educated, entrepreneurial and independent than ever and are more discerning in choosing where to work."
Stum presented the results Monday at the annual meeting of the Society for Human Resources Management in Minneapolis.
Aon Consulting, a unit of Chicago insurance company Aon Corp., measured employees' commitment by how willing they were to improve job skills, make personal sacrifices for the success of their work group and stay with the company for the next several years.
Using a 1997 survey as a base of 100, the study determined that work-force commitment fell 2.2 points in 1998. Stum called that a significant decrease.
Commitment declined in nearly every age group, income group and industry classification, according to the survey. The technology field showed the greatest percentage decline--4.4%--while employees in manufacturing and health care had the lowest overall commitment.
More than half the workers--55%--said they would switch jobs for a pay increase of 20% or less. Almost one quarter said they would leave their company for an increase of 10% or less.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, employees earning more than $100,000 a year showed the greatest commitment, and workers earning less than $20,000 showed the least commitment. Both groups, however, showed a decline in commitment from 1997.