So why are so many employees currently thinking about changing employers - and at a time of such economic uncertainty? While some turnover in staff is accepted as healthy, given the new thinking and ideas that are brought into an organisation, too much and the impact can be severe, particularly if those leaving have been assessed as current, or future, ‘talent'. There's nothing new there.
Much of the current dissatisfaction with employers is, of course, linked to the straightened times that we are all having to operate in - motivating your people against a backdrop of redundancies, salary freezes and dwindling bonus opportunities is challenging enough without having to take into account the limited opportunities for promotion and other development activities that are also a feature of today's organisation.
Development is the key word here; while many employees will claim that another role offers greater rewards, in many cases these are unlikely to be solely of a financial nature. It's well known that people move roles for a variety of reasons, but the search for new experiences and challenges is often foremost among them - doubly so for those who are driven, innovative and unprepared to accept the status-quo; just the sort of people that organisations cannot afford to lose and who will be able to help their employer through the challenging times that lie ahead. How many times have experienced individuals pointed to a ‘lack of opportunity' as their reason for leaving in exit interviews?
But it doesn't have to be like this. Most forward-thinking organisations have identified their talent and even though some development opportunities are likely to have fallen along the wayside, effective and open conversations between line managers and their teams, articulating the importance of an individual to the future success of the organisation can work wonders. Truly effective managers rise to the challenge here and at the same time as ensuring that the team is deployed to achieve the short and medium-term organisational objectives that are set - they never lose sight of the longer term and how their individual team members might play a part in it. However, in many cases this simply never happens and individuals are left to draw their own conclusions (often incorrectly) regarding their value to their current employer as well as their likelihood of playing a bigger role within it. So telling people they have a career with their current employer and not just a job can reduce the instances of those looking to leave.
And giving people the tools and techniques to manage their careers is exactly where organisations need to start - in an increasingly competitive workplace all of us will need to ensure we know how to navigate not just the external job market, but the internal organisational structure, effectively. Armed with an understanding of how to manage a career, individuals are then better able to seek out and exploit opportunities (short-term secondments; lateral moves to improve specific competence; project-work and so on) that they may previously have been unaware of. Accordingly, the employee's overall employability increases and the knowledge and understanding of that individual is, importantly, retained within the business.
Complementing this type of additional work-based learning are a host of other activities that ensure that our employees feel valued and empowered as their careers unfold: ongoing assessment activities designed to support individual development and inform the broader organisation of the skills and capabilities within it; staff engagement and attitude surveys; coaching line-managers to have effective career conversations; and ensuring that functional specialists moving into management roles are equipped with appropriate managerial skills and finally, by providing individuals with the tools to learn about management of their own career paths. All of these interventions, as well as many others, can play a fundamental role in ensuring that, when the possibility of moving on arises, our most precious resource takes the decision to stay where they are, satisfied in the knowledge that their organisation is looking after both ‘me' and ‘my career'.
Owen Morgan is commercial director at Penna