Is employee loyalty outdated?

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

So why are employees moving on? One explanation is that companies are attempting to minimise their recruitment risks by only taking on candidates who already possess the exact skills for a job. It is not uncommon for employers with such a strategy to recruit externally instead of promoting existing staff, thus creating a workforce that rewards job mobility.

"An external hire that has exactly the right skills for a job might be considered a stronger candidate than an internal recruit who needs to be coached and managed into a new and more senior role," McVicker said.

"However, from experience, this is a short-sighted and somewhat risky tactic for employers," he said. "Employers will get more from an employee who is a good cultural fit with their organisation but requires more training, than hiring an external 'superstar' who has the potential to do real damage and disrupt office relations if things don't work out."

But like it or not, the workforce is changing; and the job market is fast adapting to current trends. Mercer's Knox observed an increase in the number of knowledge workers, who are able to easily transfer their knowledge skills from one organisation to the next due to the nature of their work, and are thus best equipped for job mobility.

Best International's latest monthly report also revealed that the increase in demand for IT contractors is now exceeding the demand for permanent positions. While the overall IT job market increased by 10 per cent in February, increase in demand for contract positions was up 10 per cent compared with a rise of 9.3 per cent in permanent roles.

All is not lost, however, as McVicker points out that some employers are now implementing retention strategies to keep their employee base strong. He gave the example of employers with a large contractor or Generation Y employee base, who could look to either locking in their key contractors through contract extensions, or considering longer 12 to 18 month contract periods for new hires.

According to Sierra, while it is 'absurd' to think of employees truly having a passion for the company itself, a workplace that provides enough intellectual stimulation can encourage employees to stay there.

"When employees are supported in their passion for their work, they tend to let some of that passion spill over to their employer," she observed.

"It's like someone who has a passion for digital photography, and feels passionate about Photoshop," she said. "They aren't really passionate for Photoshop -- the passion is for photography -- but Photoshop gets to ride along."

"That's how it is with employers who give the passions for their employees a chance to thrive; the employees' passion for their work casts a glow back on the company that makes that happen," she said.

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