The age of discontent

2003

Fat cat scandals, the pensions crisis, repeated rounds of redundancies and restructuring and poor human capital policies are leading to a fundamental breakdown in trust between employers and their staff, according to research released today.

Four out of ten employees do not expect to be with their current employer in 12 months' time, while over a third say that they will start looking for a better alternative on their very first day in a new job. And nearly seven out of ten employees are keeping an active eye on the job market for new opportunities.

The findings emerge from research carried out during April 2003, by career consultancy Penna Sanders & Sidney examining current attitudes among UK employees to their careers.

'Itchy Feet' reveals the emergence of a new, self-confident employee. Informed about job opportunities, unsentimental about loyalty, and ready to move if their employer cannot accommodate their aspirations, these employees represent a significant challenge to employers who need to retain, and attract, talent.

Four out of ten respondents to the survey say their employer shows no interest in finding out what they want from their careers. And almost half believe that employers today are no more loyal than their staff. Those findings explain why a similar number say that feel no loyalty towards their employers, only to their own career.

Bill McCarthy, Managing Director of Penna Sanders & Sidney, says that despite the concern expressed by employers about how they can find and keep the best talent, too many fail to give their employees the support they want to develop and grow in their careers.

"Employees have learnt from employers that loyalty begins and ends at home," he says. "Although employers have had to implement stringent employment legislation governing flexible working rights and increased maternity and paternity leave, employees are still not satisfied.

"Today's employees are self-sufficient, driven and resourceful. However, they will stay if they are engaged with an organisation. If they are not, employers will see valuable people walk out of the door."

The credibility gap between employers and employees is most marked in those aged under 40. These younger employees are fifteen per cent more likely than their older colleagues to be loyal to their careers than their employers (54 per cent as opposed to 39 per cent) and almost ten per cent more likely to be on the lookout for new job opportunities.

Asked what they looked for from their employer, almost half per cent of respondents to the Penna survey stressed internal promotion, while better training and development were cited by four out of ten. More than a third wanted a greater recognition of their contribution to the company, and regular progress reviews were cited by more than one in four.

According to Bill McCarthy, the message to employers is clear. "The rising generation of employees are loyal to their careers and will always be ready to move if a more attractive proposition comes their way. Employers are going to have to learn how to engage with them from day one, or fear losing them altogether."