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The Grass is Greener

The Grass is Greener

Human Resources

The world of business might be talking about the ‘green shoots of recovery’, but for actual employees it is more a case of the ‘grass is greener’, with high levels of job dissatisfaction and a desire to move elsewhere when the economy recovers. A desertion time bomb is the headline finding of research conducted exclusively for HR magazine by recruitment consultancy FreshMinds Talent. The research – which polled more than 500 employees in the five specific sectors of financial services, public services, professional services, retail, and technology, media and telecoms – is one of the first studies to ask employees how they rate their jobs now, what impact the economic slowdown has had on their chosen career paths and what they are likely to do about it after the recession ends. Conducted in July, the survey results paint a bleak picture of widespread dissatisfaction and, for bosses, what should be a worrying willingness among their staff to defect to pastures new.

Across all sectors, job dissatisfaction is a high 24%. For understandable reasons, the worst sector was retail (29%). Nearly half (47%) of all our respondents said they were working harder now than they were six months ago, but it is the spectre of redundancies, plus the effect the recession is having, that seems to be having the biggest impact. Apart from public services (where employee fear of losing their job was one in five), broadly one in three workers in the other four sectors say they are currently worried about being shown the door. But not only is the recession prompting fears about job security, this survey is the first definitive proof the downturn is causing apermanent change of mindset, causing staff to seriously doubt their entire choice of career.

Overall, 64% of all employees polled said it was specifically the recession that had prompted them to think about changing career. In the financial sector, this rose to 75%, where nearly half said it was ‘a major factor’ rather than a ‘minor factor’ or ‘not at all’. Retail was also above average. Here 73% said the recession had prompted them to think about switching career, split between 41% who said it was a major factor and 32% who said it was a minor factor. Only in the public services sector did the recession appear to have virtually no impact- just 8% said the downturn was making them consider a new career path. This is backed up by the fact the public services sector also showed the highest levels of job satisfaction of all categories; 57% were either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with their job, with a further 18% being neutral about it.

Changed Expectations

James Callander, director at FreshMinds Talent, says: “The recession has clearly altered the trajectories of people’s career choices. What they expect appears to have fundamentally changed. When the recovery comes employees will look to pick up their careers, and this adjustment threatens to be just as violent as the recession itself.”

Such is this overall strength of feeling that even when public services workers are included in the average, a staggering 45% of all employees questioned now admit they regret having chosen their current sector. Two sectors had aboveaverage regret, and true to form they are again the financial services sector and the retail sector – two of the worst-hit casualties of this recession. Awhopping 50% of staff in these professions say they nowrue their choice of career.