Monday 18 November 2019 4:52 am

You just can’t keep the staff these days...

Alexandra Sydney is a director at Totaljobs.

As we enter the next phase in political campaigning, and Christmas parties are interrupted by the forthcoming election, HR departments might want to brace themselves for the next potential wave of uncertainty.

According to 16,000 UK workers recently surveyed by Totaljobs and Universum, over half of employees expect to move jobs in the next 12 months. 

The research also showed that a staggering 38 per cent of workers plan to find a new job in the next six months, while just 10 per cent expect to still work for their employer in four years’ time. 

Despite last week’s figures from the Office for National Statistics showing a slight drop in the number of people in work, the employment rate is still higher than a year ago. Plus, vacancies remain strong compared to historical figures, even with the recent fall. 

Our report ranked different industries based on a combination of how satisfied workers are with their employer, how likely they are to recommend their employer to a friend, and how interested they are in changing companies. Evidently, some industries have had greater success than others in keeping staff engaged and retaining the people they need. 

Auditing and accounting were sectors most likely to retain their staff, followed by passenger transportation in second place, legal services in third, technology in fourth, and construction and engineering in fifth. 

Industries where employees were least satisfied in their current positions included professionals in logistics in thirtieth place, media at twenty-ninth, and e-commerce at twenty-eighth. In these sectors, staff were most likely to be looking for a career change. 

The potential cost in productivity alone is huge. Those looking to leave their job are spending an average of one hour 24 minutes a day being unproductive, with 38 per cent spending time looking for jobs while at work, and 20 per cent going on to submit applications. The time spent being unproductive comes at a potential cost to UK businesses of £195m a day in lost time. Unsurprisingly, once an employee has handed in their notice and resigned, productivity drops by a further 20 per cent.  

So what’s inspiring this desire for change? We know from our research that money isn’t always the key driver in job satisfaction and retention, as 

40 per cent said feeling unchallenged in their current role was their reason for looking elsewhere. 

Managers therefore need to promote clear progression paths, flexible working styles, and training opportunities to improve working environments. A shift towards fewer meetings, quiet spaces, and more social events can also help improve engagement, while boosting your branding as an employer too – which is crucial in trying to attract new employees. 

Beyond perks, a united sense of purpose is a key motivator for staff. In this year’s rankings of the most desirable companies to work for, Google kept the number one spot. But the biggest climber was the NHS, indicating the value that today’s workers place on purpose and helping others. 

As we gear up for further uncertainty, leaders need to focus on the right retention strategies to mitigate staff migration. This means creating a culture that considers empathy, inspires innovation, celebrates success, and ultimately prevents a colleague from looking for a job elsewhere.  

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