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Looking For A New Job?

June 3, 2010

The Financial Times features a report warning employers that they face a period of severe attrition, with one in four workers planning to leave within the next year.

The article highlights the damage that the recession has done to employee loyalty, following cost-cutting, wage and recruitment freezes, regular reorganizations and job uncertainty. Such actions have left staff feeling disengaged and has undermined productivity.

When it comes to plans to change job, I suspect that a key part of the problem is that many employees have lost faith in their employer’s ability – or willingness – to ensure that things improve. The real issue for many workers, as it is for society as a whole, is whether we believe that things will get better.  A key driver of attrition will be the perception that the only way to progress is through a job move.

For those in the world of contracts and commercial management (as I reported in yesterday’s blog), there are growing opportunities to move. However,  it seems unlikely that this will translate to large-scale attrition. Here are some reasons why.

First, a majority of those in the world of contracts and commercial management are not primarily driven by money. IACCM research shows that recognition is far more important. In those companies where the contracts / commercial  job role is gaining increaased, attention and status, the interest in ‘moving on’ is substantially lower.

Second, IACCM’s morale index has shown a high level of disillusionment, but in general it does not translate to an immediate wish to move. About 40% feel that morale has fallen in the last year (early 2010 survey data). But issues such as location have become increasingly important to many and mobility is now further constrained by the challenges of the housing market. As a result, most would consider moving only if they could gain a pay increase of at least 20% – and in current conditions, that is very unlikely for all but a select few.

Transferability of skills also remains a big issue. Many contracts / commercial specialists find themselves trapped within a specific industry – so those who most want to move may be least able to do so. This problem is unlikely to ease until there is wider adoption of consistent professional standards. For example, a growing number of job specifications cite IACCM Certification and possession of this can therefore offer a passport between industries and countries, because it demonstrates a core knowledge and level of achievement.

Regional differences in employee attitudes are significant. For example, in India morale is much higher – and loyalty much lower! In booming market conditions, the belief that higher wages are attainable elsewhere is prompting much greater intentions to move job – and much higher expectations of the salary increase that will be achieved.

Overall, those in the world of contract and commercial management  tend to be a little more cynical than some. Perhaps this results in slightly lower expectations and greater resilience in the face of testing circumstances. Research suggests that this community is also more loyal, though in part that may be because the job market is less well developed and it is much harder to find new opportunities.

Therefore, while employers should not panic over attrition in the ranks of their contracts and commercial staff, this does not mean they should be complacent. Senior roles for high quality candidates are opening up. You may not lose many of your people – but you might lose the best. The research suggests that one of the key issues – and most regular failings – is the quality of functional leadership.  So ensuring that you demonstrate leadership through recognizing your team’s achievements and by creating an environment of optimism for the future are important steps.  

IACCM recently released a series of regional salary and benefit surveys that included some of the morale data cited in this article.

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