The top 4 reasons workers want to change jobs
With nearly a third of employees looking to switch jobs, understanding the reasons why and having compelling strategies to retain them is crucial.

Research conducted for SEEK reveals 31% of Australian workers are looking to move jobs in the next 6 months and there are four main reasons:

  1. Career progression (44%)
  2. More money (42%)
  3. Poor leadership or culture in their current workplace (39%)
  4. Burnout or lack of work-life balance (36%)

We asked SEEK’s resident psychologist, Sabina Read, and Managing Director of Forum Recruitment, Sam Nutbean, for their insights into why staff may be looking to switch jobs and how hirers can look at ways to reduce turnover.

Think differently about career progression opportunities

“Career progression has always been one of the highest motivators for employees seeking new employment,” Nutbean says. While it’s not always possible to offer a huge range of traditional career opportunities like promotion, there are other progress opportunities you can consider.

“Look at what you can offer, that larger organisations can’t and play to your strengths,” Nutbean says. “Involve staff in areas outside their normal duties to further integrate them into the business and get their input. This may lead to greater sharing of information, new innovations and most importantly, they will feel valued in assisting other aspects of the organisation. This is also a great way to upskill them which may lead to them switching roles within the organisation - and that’s progression.”

Offer more than financial factors

Interest rates and inflation are predicted to rise in 2022, and these factors, together with low wage growth due to the pandemic means some employees require more money.

It’s not always possible to offer pay increases, but there are appealing non-financial alternatives.

“The pandemic resulted in fundamental changes to ways of working for employees who had to work from home,” Nutbean says. “Organisations that can provide greater flexibility will usually result in increased retention.”

Offering additional paid leave is another pay rise alternative. “At Forum Recruitment, we provide one additional leave day per year of service, which is a great way to reward staff for their tenure,” Nutbean says. “Offering other paid leave such as for volunteering can also entice and retain staff who want to find purpose in an organisation.”

Implement employee-focused leadership

When employees are restless due to leadership issues or work culture, Read says it’s often because they don’t feel seen, valued or that their contribution is meaningful. “You need to find out what kind of leadership aligns with your employees,” she says.

Read suggests asking employees questions like:

  • What kind of leadership style do you feel brings out the best in you?
  • How do you know if you’ve had a good day at work?
  • What makes you talk proudly about the work you do?

“These questions show you’re curious and let employees know you’re interested in them and what makes them tick,” she says. “You’re not assuming one-size-fits-all and making collective assumptions. That kind of leadership will likely lose employees.”

Manage burnout or lack of work-life balance

If you think an employee is experiencing burnout, try a conversation where you reflect what you’ve observed. “You may say, ‘I’ve noticed in the last few meetings you’ve spoken up less. How are you feeling about the work you’re doing?’” Read suggests. “Maybe they’ve been caring for a sick family member so it’s a short-term issue, but if they say they’re not content, it’s a chance to discuss how you can support them.”

Rather than work-life balance, Read prefers to think about the different domains of an employee’s life. “Domains like parenting, work, health, time with pets and so on are different important areas in our lives that need nurturing,” she says. “Maybe an employee wants to exercise before work and would like to start 30 minutes later or maybe they want to volunteer one afternoon. Whatever it is, it’s important to ask employees what their ideal domains and boundaries look like and then see if it’s possible.”

It’s a tough time to find quality candidates, so it’s more important than ever to retain the valuable staff you do have. While some workers may be thinking of moving jobs, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of them looking elsewhere. You can do this by thinking creatively about ways employees can progress, being curious about their work experiences and how they could be improved, and by offering non-financial perks.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published January 2022.

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