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The Grass is Greener

The Grass is Greener

Human Resources

For HR directors worried about staff engagement and on-the-job performance, these findings make grim reading. On top of this, though, the survey reveals staff are not content to just moan and put up with their situation; they are seriously considering doing something about it.

HR/FreshMinds asked employees what they would most likely change about their careers in the next 12 months. A minimum of 15% of workers said they plan to get a job in a completely different industry ( even those in the public services sector said this, where the figure was 1 7%) . Highest was retail, where a fifth (20%) of all staff working there want to leave the sector for a different industry altogether.

According to Michael Moran, CEO of Fairplace, this is evidence that the psychological contract between employers and employees has hit an alltime low: “Just 18 months ago people needed a 30% salary before they would consider moving; now we’re seeing it’s only 5%. What’s been identified is that dissatisfaction rules. The impact of the recession has been that people have beenleft far less engaged.”

The countdown to a mass exodus of staff has already started, but the end of the recession seems to be the more likely point at which most people make the jump. Most employees in our survey said they saw this happening in the second and third quarters of 20 1 0.

According to Tom Hadley, director, Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the survey confirms what it sees, that job movement is a very real threat: “There’s been a hiatus in the normally fluid recruitment market. People who would have moved have not, and a bottleneck has been building up that will be ready to burst soon. This is compounded by the fact people are willing to make more radical career changes. Before, people would tend to move sideways. This is no longer the case.”

Normally HR directors might well be happy to see such grumbling staff go, but these are not junior people, so the figures ought to be taken seriously. The average salary of our respondents was Pounds 41,481, suggesting these are highly skilled. They are also very knowledgeable with an average age of 40 years. Andy Lowe, practice leader, talent management at employee lifecycle consultancy Right Management, says HR cannottake these findings lightly. “Research we did only nine months ago suggested half would stay with their companies in the next five years. There has been a massive increase in dissatisfaction. While there will always be those who are unhappy and threaten to leave, this time the outlookdanger seems much more real.”

If these top people do go it is arguably through a failure of HR and their organisation’s inability to keep their staff motivated during difficult times. This can be mooted because apart from the overall impact of recession and having to work harder, staff cite lack of skills and career progression as the factors contributing to their likelihood of changing industries – these are two things HR directors certainly have control over.