ADP: The New ‘Me’ vs. ‘We’ Mindset

ADP research shows a divide between employers and employees.

ADP is No. 17 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list

As the U.S. job market tightens and wages grow, there is a widening disconnect between how employees and employers think about work. The ADP Research Institute (ADPRI) commissioned a new survey to understand what workers consider when deciding whether to stay at their current job or look for a new position.

The ADP findings, as published in “Evolution of Work 2.0: The Me vs. We Mindset” and “Fixing the Talent Management Disconnect: Employer Perception vs. Employee Reality in the U.S. Midsized Market,” show that employees tend to concentrate on their work environment, look for meaning in their job, and want immediate advancement opportunities (the “me” mindset). Whereas, employers tend focus on bigger picture areas like financial performance, reputation, and long-term career pathing (the “we” mindset). As the U.S. labor market improves, the “me” vs. “we” disconnect becomes most apparent in the area of employee retention.

According to the ADP Workforce Vitality Report, job switching is at an all-time high, with about 27% of U.S. workers changing jobs on an annual basis. The ADP National Employment Report has also shown that more than 940,000 jobs have been added since the start of 2017, bringing the unemployment rate to 4.4% in April. So as the labor market tightens and competition for top talent becomes more heated, employers must address this disconnect head-on — because, although many employers can agree that it is difficult to retain top talent, ADP research finds that they underestimate how many employees are open to switching jobs.

According to ADP, 17% of employees are actively looking and 46% are passively looking for new jobs — showing that more than half (63%) of an employer’s total workforce may be open to leaving. Yet, while employers overestimate how many of their employees are actively (26%) searching, they underestimate how many are passively (23%) looking.

“ADP’s economic reports on employment and wages show if employers can’t meet the needs of their employees they can easily look for new jobs elsewhere,” said Jan Siegmund, chief financial officer, ADP. “In addition, employers face a perfect storm of sorts when it comes to keeping top talent. While they focus on efforts to be an employer of choice, face paying higher wages, and more, their employees can use technologies that make it easy to essentially browse for new job opportunities.”

Employers generally understand the top factors in attracting employees, but struggle to retain them. 47% of employees at midsize companies in theU.S. would consider an opportunity that matched their current salary or even paid less, proving that wage growth is not the only determinant for employees who are considering a job switch. Employees note that they value work-life balance and meaningful career development, which are often promised during their recruitment phase, but tend to change over the course of their employment. This intended, or unintended, “bait and switch” situation shows itself in ADP’s findings, where 47% of employees say they have walked away from a job that did not meet their expectations.

“Of course pay and work hours play an important role in retaining employees, but meeting employee expectations is key,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “Employees say they are more likely to stay with a company if their experiences in-role align with the expectations agreed to when hired — and if they understand how their role helps to achieve business goals. But when a positon shifts away from that understanding, employees are already thinking of leaving.”

The growing disconnect between the “me’s” and “we’s” is something that must be considered in the area of training as well. Currently, just one-third of U.S. employees give their companies high marks on career performance, learning management, and succession planning. While 77% of midsized employers in the U.S. offer employee training programs, only 40% of employees participated in them.iii This calls into question the quality of these programs and if the topics align with what employees want to learn.

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4 comments


  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    Employers may OFFER training programs, but that doesn’t mean employees are actually permitted to take them – especially classified/hourly workers and frontline managers.

    And it is absurd for employers to profess a focus on focus on “long-term career pathing” when workers are constantly being told that there are no permanent jobs any more, that we should expect to change jobs or even professions 4-10 times during our work lives. The post-WW2 social compact that made the United States prosperous was unilaterally cancelled by management during the Reagan Era, to be replaced by a tacit class war of the global super-rich and their hirelings vs. the rest of the human race; there is no “we”, however much management pretends to think otherwise when asked.

    • In my experience, there is a big difference between companies. In well run companies, programs are offered and they are intended to be taken seriously. In poorly run companies (the majority of companies), you’re right.

      By measurement of their human capital processes in our Top 50 competition, I can say ADP is a very well-run company. If they offer a program there, you could take it to the bank that they want you to prosper from it.

      • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

        But most corporate employees work for the members of the Wilshire 5000 that will never qualify for your Top 50; and public employers by and large, when they emulate business practices, emulate worst practices rather than best. (I can’t think of a “pro-business” governor or other public executive in the U.S. who actually seems to grasp the core HR concept of recruitment and retention; they seem to only grasp the concepts of downsizing, outsourcing and speed-ups.)

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