Female Volunteer Planting Trees

Carving a new career path

Your employees are on the move. But what are the factors that encourage them to stay?

4 minute read
Female Volunteer Planting Trees

The days of receiving a commemorative watch for 30 years of service may be coming to an end, with a new workforce paradigm which encourages professionals to rethink job mobility.  

Curtin University Associate Professor Kantha Dayaram explores the domain of employee relations and employability development. 

According to her research, career expectations have changed, yet finding an employee who has remained within the same company for decades isn’t such a rarity. 

“What we are seeing is that approximately 10 per cent of employees have remained in the same organisation for an extended period. Generally, this is down to congruent organisational values and support,” she said. 

“It takes someone two to five years to get to know an organisation – the settling in costs are pretty high."

"Hence why it’s in the organisation’s interests to maintain readily available support for staff and to guide employees towards gaining a higher skill set.”  

Finding an organisation with healthy workplace culture, congruent values that align with employee belief systems and varied opportunity for skill set expansion are desirable attributes to many working professionals, something Associate Professor Dayaram said created a positive work environment and were factors which might keep employees from changing jobs.

“Ethics is becoming a higher asset in company agendas. Sometimes this could be from an environmental or sustainable standpoint,” she said. “Organisations respond to public values by way of their corporate social responsibility, therefore standing up to be ethical organisations is valued highly because it is seen as ‘doing the right thing’ by society.

“For example, given the current global focus on environmental sustainability, climate change, equity issues and more, organisations respond with an agenda that shows they support these issues. In doing so, the public in return supports such organisations and it increases their asset/value base.”

Flexibility is also seen as appealing for employees, particularly millennials, with Associate Professor Dayaram saying flexible work arrangements are becoming increasingly desirable, as more people are looking to work from home or obtain alternative work hours.

Gone are the days of acquiring a job straight out of high school and sticking around for decades to watch the organisation grow; it seems new recruits are eager to dot their new office spaces with indoor plants and pictures of loved ones at the next company that awards the most promising future. 

However, will staying in the same job lead to more positive outcomes for future employment? 

To stay or to go?

According to Associate Professor Dayaram, job-hopping can be detrimental or beneficial, depending on the category of work the employee finds themselves in. 

“Interview panellists will tell you that job requirements are formed around experience and skill sets, usually one of those requirements is job stability. A potential candidate becomes more attractive to the company when they have a history of stable employment,” she said. 

“The cost of staff turnover is high, particularly talent work, so organisations will be considering that when interviewing or reviewing a resume.”

Associate Professor Dayaram said there were generational differences in work expectations, length of stay and skill levels, where older generations would expect less and work longer in a position which might not serve their career goals. 

“If we look at career progression in baby boomers, historically a baby boomer would have stayed on within their organisation up until a certain point,” she said. 

“What we are seeing with younger generations is a new type of professional. They are dependent on their curriculum vitae to show their skills in different contexts, prompting them to transition to different jobs – often at a faster rate than that of the baby boomer generation.” 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 7.5 per cent (975,000) employees changed employers or businesses in the 12 months up to February 2021. 

The data revealed that mobility amongst occupations was highest in professionals at 20.8 per cent, while mobility was lowest in machinery operators and drivers at six per cent for the year ending February 2021.

On average, Associate Professor Dayaram said occupants remained in the same job for three to four years, until they saw a break in the career ladder. 

“There seems to be a misunderstanding that millennials job-hop compared to baby boomers,” she said.

“It comes back to organisational support, where employees have mobility opportunities across countries or divisions, skills growth and work across numerous projects – they’re more likely to stay within the organisation.” 

Associate Professor Dayaram also believes there is a link between turnover rates and mental health. 

“One of the factors we are seeing in organisational support is employee wellbeing. This is more pronounced in certain professions,” she said. 

“Turnover rates within nursing and teaching professions are much higher than other professional categories. 

“Organisations that are able to provide mental health support and resources seem to retain their staff.”