The recession has crushed the “free agent” mentality that has prevailed among American workers who had freely job-hopped since the 1990s, Towers Watson found in a survey of 22,000 employees in 22 markets around the world.

While that has caused more people to want to stay put in a job in hopes of job stability, with 50% even saying they would like to remain with one employer their whole working lives—that complacency has not translated to their ideas about retirement.

True, most Americans have lowered their expectations for retirement along with their careers. However, they realize more than ever they are responsible for their retirement,Towers Watson found. In fact, job advancement now takes a back seat to a growing desire for stability, retirement included.

“For many employers, the recession has put the final nail in the coffin of the traditional ‘deal’ that once existed between employees and employers,” said Max Caldwell, a leader in the talent and rewards practice at Towers Watson. “Not only have people seen many co-workers, friends and family members laid off, but they know they are increasingly on their own for everything from healthcare, to managing their career, to planning for a secure retirement.”

Other highlights of the survey include the finding that 86% would prefer a secure and stable position when switching jobs, compared 74% who would like substantially higher compensation. Thirty percent plan to work to age 70 or beyond.

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