Irish workers among happiest in Europe, yet most likely to jump ship

Jan 17 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Irish employees are among the most likely in Europe actively to consider leaving their job, according to new research.

The study by consultancy Watson Wyatt also found that, despite this, Irish employees having a higher than average positive view of their work.

The company's European Total Reward Survey, which polled 600 employers and more than 8,500 employees from 10 European countries, found that 41 per cent of Irish employees were actively considering leaving their employer, a response six per cent higher than the European average.

"The variation between countries is partly due to cultural and institutional differences, but undoubtedly the economic landscape [within each territory] is crucial," said Lorna Byrne, human capital consultant with Watson Wyatt in Dublin.

"The apparent paradox is that although Irish employees are more positive about their work experience than their European peers, they are still more likely to consider leaving their jobs," she added.

The strength of Ireland's economy and its labour market were key factors underpinning this finding, as was the young age of the Irish workforce, something that is at odds with much of Europe.

"Of course not all of those considering alternative employment will actually leave; none the less the results represent a challenge for employers in Ireland," said Byrne.

"The statistics highlight the importance of developing a targeted, relevant reward package that meets the needs of employees, from both a motivational and value perspective," she added.

For example, some employees valued flexible working hours more than a company car, while others may preferred increased annual leave to having private health insurance Ė and employers needed to be flexible enough to adjust to that.

A well designed strategy, including a menu of financial and non-financial rewards could often ensure employees understood their needs were being recognised, Byrne argued.

Many Irish employers were making an increased effort to understand employee needs through employee reward surveys and other listening strategies, she added.

The survey also found that the proportion of companies across Europe intending to move toward a "total reward"' approach is set to rise from nine per cent currently to 50 per cent.

This meant employers needed to give greater consideration to the value of wider elements of the reward package, including non-financial factors such as career development and promotion opportunities.

"Although there is always room for improvement, there is good news in the findings. Irish employers are outperforming Europe in many areas of people management and employee engagement and this is a testament to the combined efforts of our HR practitioners, people managers and business leaders," added Byrne.