The Numbers at a Glance

Here's what the work lifestyles of today’s talent look like.

17% Returned

Returned to work after a period of not working for at least one year

20% Relocated

Today’s workforce relocated for work for their current position, or within the last three years

1/3 Freelance

Of employees have a side job or freelance work

Who is returning to the workforce and why?

17% of respondents returned to work during the past three years after not working for at least one year.

The tightening job market may have something to do with workers returning. With lower unemployment rates, fewer available candidates, and more open job opportunities, the time is right for people to come back to work. But there's more to the story.

Who is coming back?

We asked: Within the last three years, have you had to return to the workforce after a period of not working for longer than one year?

More men than women have returned to work after a break of a year or more.

Why did they leave, and why did they come back?

We asked: Why did you return to the workforce?

  • 30% Left work for medical reasons, then recovered and returned
  • 28% Laid off, then found a new position
  • 13% Retired, then needed additional income
  • 13% Children at an age when they don’t need a stay-at-home parent
  • 13% Other
  • 3% Bored with retirement

Most people who left their jobs for more than one year said it was due to medical reasons. A close second was layoffs.

Broken down by age:

  • Left work for medical reasons, then recovered and returned
  • Laid off, then found a new position
  • Retired, then needed additional income
  • Children at an age when they don’t need a stay-at-home parent
  • Other
  • Bored with retirement

67% of those who returned because they retired, then needed additional income are 65+, while 67% of those who left work for medical reasons are under the age of 44. Returning to work after being laid off is a more common reason for those between the ages of 18 - 24 (42%), 45 - 54 (45%) and 55 - 64 (47%). And, not surprisingly, children growing up/no longer needing stay-at-home parents is a primary reason why those 25 - 44 year-olds return to the workforce.

The Takeaways

Show that you understand what returning workers want.

Nearly a quarter of respondents want—even need—to return to work, and the reasons why are not always out of pure desire. Circumstances such as medical reasons or layoffs are unfortunate, and often stressful, reasons for leaving and returning to work. Organizations need to be sensitive to these experiences.

That said, in today's candidate-driven job market, employees returning to the workforce present an opportunity for you to recruit from new pools of talent that may go unnoticed by your competition. Understanding why certain groups left and then returned to the workforce can help both you and them readjust to the workforce in the most efficient, productive way possible.

Adapt your benefits package to workers of all ages.

HR departments need to adapt their benefits packages to be applicable to workers of all ages. For example, while maternity or paternity leave may be enticing for younger workers, older workers may appreciate expanded bereavement leave for the death of a family member, or the option to work remotely to avoid a commute.

Create a Return-to-Work program.

Whether that means offering reimbursement for childcare assistance, or pairing older workers with younger workers for mutually beneficial mentoring, establishing a Return-to-Work program could be the perfect way to not only target, but also ramp up employees who are looking to get back to work after a break in employment.

Photo of candidate relocating.

Which candidates will relocate?

Nearly 20% of respondents have relocated for work in the past three years.

From Amazon’s “CamperForce” program, to Millennials migrating to larger metropolitan areas to seek employment, America’s workforce appears to be increasingly mobile, but that does not mean all of them are.

Who is more likely to move for work?

We asked: Have you relocated for your current position?

Broken down by age:

Essentially, Millennials are most likely to relocate. This is often due to career growth and promotions. The same goes for members of Generation X, although not quite to the extent of their younger counterparts.

The most mobile industries.

We asked: Did you relocate for your current position?

  • 30% IT & Engineering
  • 20% Industrial & Manufacturing
  • 18% Accounting & Finance
  • 17% Creative & Marketing
  • 14% Office & Administration
  • 13% Legal
  • 12% Customer Service

IT & engineering and industrial & manufacturing account for 50% of workers who relocated for their current positions.

The Takeaways

Attract talent that may be willing to relocate.

In today’s tight labor market, knowing that candidates may be willing to relocate should come as a relief to organizations struggling to fill positions with qualified talent.

Draw a larger circle on the map.

Industries that report more workers who have relocated, such as IT and engineering, industrial and manufacturing, and accounting and finance should expand their search radius when looking to recruit talent for open positions.

Offer relocation benefits.

Assess what relocation benefits are appropriate when interviewing out-of-market talent. From covering moving costs, to providing temporary housing, ensure your relocation benefits are appealing when searching for talent outside of your area.

Photo of candidates freelancing.

Your job may not be the only one your employees have.

1/3 of employees have a side job or freelance work.

There's plenty of talk about the rise of the “gig economy” in the U.S. workforce. Let’s take a look at who is more likely to have a side job and why.

Employees with side jobs and why - by age.

We asked: Do you have a side job or any freelance work outside of your main job?

Broken down by age:

The younger an employee, the more likely they have a side gig.

We asked: What is the purpose of your second job? Select all that apply.

Broken down by age:

  • It helps me pay the bills.
  • It provides more expendable income.
  • It allows me to develop other skills.
  • It allows me to build a portfolio.
  • It fulfills a passion that my current job does not.

Amount of respondents who have side jobs because they need or want money to pay bills, or for expendable income.

80% Ages 18 - 24

84% Ages 25 - 34

71% Ages 35 - 44

79% Ages 45 - 54

79% Ages 55 - 64

72% Ages 65+

While side gigs for younger workers are becoming the new norm, seeing older demographics working side jobs signifies that the shift from the pension economy to the gig economy has officially arrived. Early retirement is becoming less realistic for the aging workforce as the burden of retirement income has become less of an employer’s responsibility and more of a worker’s responsibility. Companies and individuals can’t rely on the models of the past to shape their workforce plans and future career goals. The future requires flexibility, sometimes multiple jobs, and oftentimes extended careers.

Employees with side jobs - by industry.

If you break down employees with side jobs by industry, it becomes clear that additional income—though still the leading indicator for why employees hold side jobs—isn’t the only reason some workers participate in the gig economy.

46% of industrial and manufacturing workers hold side jobs to help pay their bills, compared to only 6% of creative and marketing workers. What's more, creative and marketing workers are twice as likely than the next highest industry to use their side job to develop other skills.

industrial-manufacturing Industrial & Manufacturing

  • 46% to pay their bills
  • 38% want more expendable income
  • 11% to fulfill an outside passion
  • 3% to develop other skills
  • 2% to build a portfolio
  • 2% other

customer-service Customer Service

  • 39% to pay their bills
  • 37% want more expendable income
  • 16% to fulfill an outside passion
  • 4% to develop other skills
  • 2% to build a portfolio
  • 2% other

office-administration Office & Administration

  • 41% to pay their bills
  • 34% want more expendable income
  • 14% to fulfill an outside passion
  • 9% to develop other skills
  • 2% to build a portfolio

accounting-finance Accounting & Finance

  • 50% for expendable income
  • 34% to pay their bills
  • 4% to fulfill an outside passion
  • 3% to develop other skills
  • 3% to build a portfolio
  • 3% other

legal Legal

  • 44% for expendable income
  • 33% to pay their bills
  • 12% to develop other skills
  • 11% to build a portfolio

it-engineering IT & Engineering

  • 48% for expendable income
  • 35% to pay their bills
  • 13% to develop other skills
  • 4% to build a portfolio

creative-marketing Creative & Marketing

  • 53% for expendable income
  • 24% to develop other skills
  • 12% to fulfill an outside passion
  • 6% to pay their bills
  • 5% other

46% of industrial and manufacturing workers hold side jobs to help pay their bills, compared to only 6% of creative and marketing workers. What’s more, creative and marketing workers are twice as likely than the next highest industry to use their side job to develop other skills.

The Takeaways

Here's what you can do for your employees with side jobs.

While the cost of living continues to increase in the U.S., in many cases, wages haven’t quite kept pace. Some workers have no choice but to take a side job to keep up.

This creates a divide between different types of work groups—the “wants” vs. “needs” group. It’s important to remember that some of your employees may hold a second job because they need to help pay their bills, while others are participating in them because they want to, for reasons such as fulfilling an outside passion or developing other skills.

Understanding why your employees hold second jobs is crucial to helping them succeed at your company.

To help pay their bills…

Typically, lower paying jobs, such as those in industrial and manufacturing, are most likely to have workers who hold side jobs to help pay their bills. To ensure these employees aren’t experiencing burnout—or worse, consistently searching for employment elsewhere to help make ends meet—make a business case for higher wages that would improve retention. Also, set up performance goals that, if met, earn the person a bonus, or consider offering financial assistance programs to address specific needs, like student loans or medical expenses.

To fulfill an outside passion…

Task-heavy jobs like office and administration and customer service are more likely to have workers who hold side jobs to fulfill an extra passion. This suggests they may be seeking more meaning in their day-to-day work or feel less engaged in their tasks. Involving these employees in your organization’s corporate social responsibility efforts, creating recognition programs to highlight their efforts, and potentially allowing them to explore other career paths in your company can go a long way towards improving employee engagement.

Because they want the expendable income…

Higher paying industries like accounting & finance, legal, and IT & engineering are more likely to have workers who hold side jobs simply because they want the extra income. That said, there could be ways to offer employee rewards and recognition that line up with how your employees spend their extra income. Conduct a survey to find out what your employees enjoy spending their money on outside of work, then create a rewards program based on performance.

To develop other skills…

Creative industries such as marketing are twice as likely as others to say they hold side jobs to develop other skills. One reason may be that many of them are considering a career change or are angling for a promotion. Another could simply be a reflection of the rapid industry changes and growing opportunities in this field. The best thing you can do is to ensure you’re offering them career development opportunities like extra training, or sponsoring travel to industry conferences.