Is employee loyalty outdated?

An IT talent war and the infusion of Gen Y is changing the Australian workforce

A 2004 survey of about 1,200 Australian employees also indicated a decrease in employee loyalty over the years, with Generation Y staff responding with lower levels of commitment to staying with their organisation than both Generation X and the Baby Boomer generation.

The study was conducted by international human resources consultancy, Mercer. According to Rob Knox, the consultancy's Head of Human Capital Product Services, there is a wide variance in the current five-to-six-year average employee turnover rate.

Some turnover is healthy, Knox said, as it provides the opportunity for the organisation to take on new ideas while allowing other, perhaps unmotivated or low-performing employees to move on. On the other hand, he said, having employees leave after too short a time is likely to have negative consequences on a company.

"In general, I believe employers would prefer an increase, rather than a decrease in loyalty," he said. "Among other things, the cost of recruitment and training associated with a decrease in loyalty has a negative impact on business results."

McVicker agrees that employees who can demonstrate workplace loyalty and passion are highly valued attributes in recruitment, as these are people who are expected to be able to enhance the work environment for existing employees, and ultimately contribute to the organisational culture.

"Passion and loyalty are very high on the list of competencies that employers seek in potential staff," he said. "Whilst individual competency and ability is vital to actually doing the job, to survive the talent drought, employers will be looking for prospective candidates who can do the job but want to grow with the company."

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