The moment you employ someone they are likely to be looking for a biggerchallenge elsewhere. Scott Beagrie finds out how smart companies discourageitchy feet among their best employeesDo you realise that at this very moment, one in three of your new startersinducted this week is already scouring the appointments pages or surfing thenet for another job? A study published by career consultancy Penna Sanders& Sidney, reveals that 36 per cent of respondents actively search for abetter deal, even on their first day of a new job. The figures are more marked among younger employees (aged 16-39) with sevenin 10 (73 per cent) constantly on the look out for something better.Consequently, they keep their CVs and career history up-to-date – ready to moveswiftly if a fresh opportunity presents itself. These findings are largely consistent with the view of HR managers in twoother recent surveys. Figures presented at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development’sAnnual Recruitment Conference in June show that 72 per cent of 557organisations surveyed report retention difficulties – up by 22 per cent on theprevious year. And nearly half (48 per cent) of HR managers in an IRS Employment Reviewsurvey, published in May, reported that labour turnover had been ‘uncomfortablyhigh’ over the previous 12 months. Penna’s study, Itchy Feet, which examines the attitudes to work of 1,010employees, highlights the rise of the assured, self-reliant and unsentimentalemployee who is well-informed about the job market and whose only loyalty is totheir career – not their employer. Psychological deterioration The findings also point to further deterioration in the psychologicalcontract between employer and employee, and an alarming gap between the rhetoricand reality of the publicised endeavours of many organisations to find andretain the best talent. Four out of 10 respondents (41 per cent) claim theiremployers show no interest in discovering what they want from their careers.The same number do not expect to be with their current employer in 12 months’time. “The relationship between employer and employee has changeddramatically compared with 10 or 15 years ago,” says Mike Haffenden, adirector of Careers Research Forum, commenting on the research.”Individuals recognise that old-fashioned loyalty just doesn’t exist anymore. And they won’t think twice about moving if they don’t like the prospects,the people or the money.” Self-reliant assets Absurdly, it is precisely these qualities of being able to take charge andact on their initiative that also makes the new breed of self-reliant employeea key asset. As Robert Ingram, vice-president, human resources, Cap Gemini Ernst &Young (CGE&Y), underlines: “We want people who have itchy feet in thesense that they are keen to take on new challenges, to develop and to embracechange,” he explains. “The last thing we want is for all ouremployees to want to carry on doing everything exactly as they have always doneit. But we want them to be able to walk around inside our company rather thanhaving to walk out.” Employee loyalty may have gone out of the window, but it doesn’t meanemployers – or HR for that matter – have to be acquiescent in the affair. Competitivedemands, skills shortages and the costs of recruiting and trainingreplacements, makes it imperative for businesses to take action and put themanagement structures and mechanisms in place to prevent the wholesaledeparture of employees to rival organisations. Encouragingly, the solutions identified by respondents in the Itchy Feetstudy are not elusive and fall within HR’s remit. These include promotion(cited by 46 per cent), better training and development (41 per cent), morerecognition of contribution (36 per cent), more information of how they aredoing (32 per cent), regular reviews of progress (27 per cent) and careerswitch opportunities (20 per cent). Any response to retention problems should of course, be tailored to thatparticular business’ circumstances, but it is unlikely that bolting on two orthree initiatives or a ‘one-size fits all’ approach will work. Line managersare also seen as playing a vital role in retention and career development, andshould own the initiatives – although Marks & Spencer, which is reviewingits career development programme is questioning their involvement. “There is a school of thought that this is not their area ofexpertise,” says Tracy Gunn, a learning specialist in management andleadership development at the retailer, “and [therefore] should we have acadre of people in the business who can actually coach and give advicespecifically on careers?” These issues aside, any organisation that is prepared to take action mustput the career development of its people at the heart of how it manages andleads. Global consultancy CGE&Y is one company that has done this and hasbeen rewarded with a notable impact on its retention rates. Its approachcentres on a rigorous quarterly survey, which provides a continual flow ofinformation about employees’ attitudes and wants, supported by a powerfulemployee-representative body. Taking the initiative All vacancies are posted on the company’s intranet and employees can alsorequest them to be e-mailed directly to their desktops. A ‘hot assignments’section encourages individuals to take the initiative and put themselvesforward for assignments they like the sound of. “We publicise them so you don’t have to wait to be asked,” saysIngram. The initiatives are all underpinned by a recruitment strategy thatfocuses on the junior end of the organisation, with staff then encouraged toseek fresh challenges and develop within the company. “It is easy to move on, but the company that provides the bestopportunities, the best culture and the most interesting work will be able toretain its people,” says Ingram. The net result is that only 8 per cent of CGE&Y employees anticipatethey will leave before the year-end, 40 per cent wish to remain with thecompany for more than five years, while 29 per cent were undecided. However, as Ingram, who hopes to reduce the undecided figure to 20 per cent,observes: “If you have talented people you’re always going to haveturnover, and if you have a good reputation, rivals will always hunt your bestpeople.” Seven ways to retain and motivate employees– Work out a retention programme andbuild a reputation as a good employer– Improve internal communications – conduct regular surveys tofind out what’s important to employees. Exit interviews also provide valuableinformation on which to act– Use the information gleaned to design jobs that excite andinspire. Job swapping, secondments, and project work are also effective ways ofsustaining interest– Make company objectives clear as well as the rewards andbenefits employees can expect in return– Be attentive to the needs and ambitions of employees andthink creatively about how to motivate them– Recognise performance/achievement– Appreciate when not to stand in the way of an employee whowants to leave – individuals will increasingly have to change organisations toprogress What makes them stick?On 23 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed.