A job for life is fast becoming a thing of the past. Generation Y and Z have never been more entrepreneurial and are predicted to fulfil close to ten different positions before they turn forty. This is surely a nightmarish thought for any HR team. While average company turnover in the UK remains at 15%, this figure is much higher in private sector industries such as retail, where many PR professionals find themselves. This begs the question: are companies repelling employees or simply grappling with a generation of commitment-phobes? Who really is to blame for company turnover: the employer or the employee?
When it comes to employee motivation the age old pull of extra money still holds the crown (and in tough financial times who can blame anyone for following the pound signs?) but nowadays fresh circumstances are coming into play.
Firstly, we all want to enjoy our jobs, it’s hard enough getting up in the morning as it is. In the current unstable climate where office hours are long and client budgets tight, life for employees is not easy. As Prospect Co-founder Colette Brown has observed, ‘Smaller budgets are the order of the day and for many businesses, that has been to the detriment of internal clients, i.e. the employees.’ Therefore, looking in a new and completely different direction has never been more attractive. Fancy yourself as a personal trainer? Always wanted to go into teaching? No one is better qualified to build and launch a new personal brand, than a former PR themselves.
Switching to freelance is also becoming more popular. Saying goodbye to the pension, regular income and not to mention the client discount can hurt, but with it comes new found freedom. Just imagine being able to turn down a last minute client demand to make it to a birthday dinner.
In an industry dominated by women, it is perhaps unsurprising that family is another key personal motivator for leaving work. Furthermore, if you haven’t moved beyond Director Level in PR by the time you’re in your forties, it could be the opportune moment to call it a day. As Colette Brown states, ‘While the industry would argue that it is not one where age matters, let’s face it, if you haven’t ‘made it’ by a certain point, then you aren’t likely to make it at all.’ It’s no surprise that consequently certain employees choose to trade in boardroom meetings for coffee mornings.
So how does it look from the other side? In the day and age of flexitime and company taco nights, the cherry on the cake for a good employer may be creating the right culture. As Prospect Co-founder Emma Dale concurs, ‘Culture, values and CSR activity are all very important in order to attract and keep the best talent.’ Companies don’t all need giant slides and pets, but employee activities and team building efforts can go a long way to making staff feel that an organisation is a great place to work for.
Benefits aside, good management can make all the difference. Performing your line manager duties well is no easy task however with minimal training and a suffocating board to deal with. Despite the challenges, a good manager can make an employee feel confident and motivated, but a bad one can have disastrous consequences. Employees also want to see a clear path for growth and development within the company. If they don’t feel there are opportunities to move up the ladder, you can guarantee a competitor can.
Overall, the facts still remain clear - turnover happens and sadly companies do lose great people - but perhaps what every employer could ask themselves the next time they receive a resignation is: did I do everything I could to keep this person? Was it you or me?