The explosion in internet recruitment sites has created a generation of job flirts whose loyalty to their employer is quick to evaporate and who are always on the lookout for the next career opportunity.
Despite claiming to be engaged and content in their current position, a new survey of over 1,000 UK employees has found that many are always on the look out for the next opportunity and a company that can offer them a more interesting job.
The survey, by staffing company Adecco, found that despite the fact that eight out of 10 believe they will be in the same job in 12 months from now, four out of 10 have nevertheless applied for a job or registered with a recruitment agency in the past year.
It also underlined the strong links between levels of employer engagement and the nature of the job, the working environment and job stability.
UK workers emerge as being savvy about what they look for in a new working relationship and keen to find a company that can offer them the best deal.
But more money is not necessarily the main priority. Instead, they are overwhelmingly looking for interesting or challenging work, with a friendly and pleasant work environment just as important as regular pay rises.
"We are seeing a high number of UK workers taking an 'always on the look out' approach to job hunting. In an increasingly competitive market, UK employees are aware that whilst they may feel content and motivated in their current position, it is important to keep new opportunities on the radar," said Steven Kirkpatrick, managing director of Adecco.
The research also reveals that with six out of 10 employees using the web to keep an eye on new opportunities, many are essentially in 'permanent interview' mode.
"The Internet has created a new generation of 'career traders'," Steven Kirkpatrick added.
"In the past, job hunters would be more reticent at seeking out their perfect job match however we are now seeing a more proactive approach, with job seekers scanning for the best deals."
So given this high level of job seeking activity, what does the survey suggest that businesses do to ensure that this flirting does not lead to a serial affair and a quick divorce?
A key factor appears to be honouring the commitments promised to prospective employees. Because whilst workers claim to be loyal, they expect the same level of treatment in return.
The survey reveals that organisations need to ensure that the nature of the job remains the same, provide a pleasant working environment and offer real job stability.
Fail to do so and – as a separate survey by Sirota Survey Intelligence revealed last week – employers can expect new staff to head for the door.
Sirota's study of worker attrition rates found that employees with less than two years of service voluntarily leave at an average rate of about 20 per cent per year, while those with more than two years tenure quit at an average rate of only half this.
The Adecco research underlines why this is the case, with only a quarter of disengaged workers saying that their employers met the commitment to provide a pleasant working environment compared to eight out of 10 of motivated employees who said the opposite.
"If a company works hard to project the right profile and provide a challenging working environment, then the company will not only be able to retain current staff, but also attract the best prospective employees overcoming any troublesome skill shortages," Steven Kirkpatrick said.
But he warned that if employers do not meet these expectations, the changing nature of the jobs market meant that they would inevitably face retention problems.
"Today's promiscuous nature of job seeking will cause companies serious talent loss, high staff attrition and loss of ground in the ever increasing battle to attract the best new recruits."