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Americans feel secure about jobs

Americans like their work

Employed Americans cited their paycheck as the top reason they are staying in their job, at 39 percent. But enjoyment of their work came in a close second, at 33 percent. Surprisingly, health insurance was a distant third, at 11 percent.

"Workers are still tremendously involved with how much they like the work, if you compare that 50 or 70 years ago, people of the older generation didn't even expect to like the work they did. As long as they had money, that was good enough," says Magnuson.

And 7 percent say their main reason for working is having a good boss.

Kilgore suggests that a more telling statistic might have been the number of ex-employees who list bad boss among their top reasons for decampment.

Which is the most important reason for you to stay in your current job?

"Here, less than one in 10 say that having a good boss is a reason to keep their job. But in other surveys, depending on who's doing the polling, the first or second reason that workers give for voluntary attrition is a bad boss," he says.

For executives and professional level workers, Kilgore recommends that prospective hires ask for references on their potential boss when the hiring process gets serious.

"I used to do outplacement coaching for executives. I would say when you get close to an offer, when they're asking for references, ask for references in return. This statistic says that people don't do that. They don't query the boss pre-employment. When it comes to why people voluntarily leave, bosses are always in the top two or three," he says.

Who wants freedom? Not us

Another survey question corroborates the idea that Americans like to work -- even if they don't have to.

When asked what they would do if they were to win the lottery or come into enough money that they didn't have to work anymore, most people said that they would prefer to bank the money and continue working. Fifty percent opted to keep their job, compared to 14 percent who would turn in their two weeks' notice right away.

Seventeen percent said they would take some time off and perhaps go back to work, while 13 percent would start their own business.

If you were to win a lottery jackpot or come into enough money that you didn't have to work any longer, which of the following would you be most likely to do?

"I think a lot of people would say, 'Well now, what am I going to do with myself?'" says Todd Bermont, job hunting expert and author of "10 Insider Secrets to a Winning Job Search."

"A lot of people like the social interaction that employment provides. Just like the weekend provides an escape from the work week, the work week provides an escape from the weekend. At the end of the day, you can only do so much sitting on a beach or playing golf. People like to feel productive," he says.

Men appeared to be more willing to take a chance on entrepreneurship than women. Nearly twice as many men said they would start their own business: 17 percent versus 9 percent of women.

"I think it's hard to come up with generalizations on that, but sometimes men can tend to be a little bit more risk-takers, and women can be more conservative," says Bermont.

Women were also more likely than men to save their windfall and keep working, at 58 percent versus 43 percent of men.

Results are based on telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, age 18 and over, including 509 who are currently employed. The interviews were conducted from May 14-17, 2009, under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Interviews were conducted on both landline and cell phones using random digit dial (RDD) sample. Sample demographics were weighted to match population parameters derived from the Census Bureaus' 2007 Annual Social and Economic Supplement data. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the total sample, and plus or minus 5 percentage points for results based on employed adults. Results based on smaller subgroups are subject to larger margins of sampling error. In addition to sampling error, the practical difficulties of conducting surveys can also introduce error or bias to poll results.

For full results and methodology, download this PDF.


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