By Melissa J. Anderson

A new study by Kelly Services, a global consulting firm based in Canada, has revealed that workers around the world are becoming more and more mobile. The report, the 2012 Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) polled almost 170,000 people from around the world. The research, according to Kelly, “shows a changing attitude on the part of employees, with more embracing the notion of gaining new experiences and skills with multiple employers.”

By and large, the respondents said they believe the age of a “career-for-life” is over, and even if they are pleased with their current job, most respondents said they’ve got an eye on openings and are considering their next move.

Kelly believes this presents a challenge for employers – not just in the retention of these mobile employees, but in keeping them engaged over the long term. How can companies manage their workers when they always have one foot out the door?

Empowered Employees

The KGWI revealed that “more than half favor a constant state of employment motion when considering career growth and skills development.” It also found that “less than one third believe their career will benefit from remaining with their current employer.”

Almost three quarters (70 percent) said they think having multiple employers is an asset for their career and 69 percent said they think they can get a better job than the one they currently have. Over half (53 percent) think the best way to advance their career is to join a new company, and 54 percent said they are in a “position of high demand.”

These numbers are surprising given the current state of global uncertainty – even though the jobs economy isn’t strong, employees around the world are confident they could find another, better job than the one they currently have. In fact, almost half (49 percent) said they are looking for ne opportunities right now.

In fact, the study showed, even employees who are happy with their current role say they are interested in seeking employment elsewhere.

Challenge for Employers

The study could point to a challenge for employers, Kelly points out.

“It reveals the challenge facing many organizations, with employees constantly seeking out new employment opportunities, even when they are happy in their jobs. The survey also shows the way that employees are using intelligence from the labor market to negotiate better outcomes with their employers, and how they judge their employment prospects over the coming year.”

The study reveals a trend that has been active for some time – employees are growing energized by movement. There is a need for constant growth or change, and these survey results reflect that feeling.

“Also interesting is that the trend is more pronounced in professionals. “Significantly more workers with Professional/Technical expertise value the benefit of work experience with multiple employers. A total of 74% of those with Professional/ Technical skills view work with multiple employers as an asset, compared with 66% of those with Non- Professional/ Technical skills.”

Finally, the study showed that many people, even those who aren’t interested in moving jobs, are paying attention to the job market – in order to negotiate with their bosses. The report says, “Among those who actively look for better job opportunities or evaluate the external jobs market, about half (49%) use this knowledge to bargain or negotiate with their current employer.”

It went on further:

“They possess a keen understanding that skills and experience in certain sectors are in high demand, that they are in a good bargaining position, and that working for multiple employers over time is considered an asset. For employers, this adds another layer of complexity—managing a new breed of aspirational and dynamic employees whose talents are critical, but whose careers are in a perpetual state of motion.”

Certainly, it as the global economy thaws, employers are facing a new world. The ones who are most successful will implement learning and development programs that keep their aspirational high performers engaged – rather than looking outside the company for new employers. Finding ways to help people feel like they are moving forward in their professional development is critical for employers who wish to retain key players in their companies.