Happy staff? It doesn't mean they're loyal

Just because your staff are happy doesn't mean they're loyal, especially for an IT professional.

An Australian Internet employment company believes companies that score highly in staff satisfaction surveys are fooling themselves if they think this translates into staff loyalty.

Seek Communications (seek.com.au), with the help of a research firm, surveyed more than 500 full-time employees from various industries across Australia, examining their attitudes about what influences job satisfaction, what factors lead to a change in jobs and how employees research potential employers.

Paul Bassat, CEO of Seek, has no doubt that at least 68 per cent of IT professionals, aged 18 to 50, believe if their current job doesn't work out, they will have no trouble finding another suitable job.

"IT professionals are confident they could find another job easily," he said.

Bassat said the IT industry has the greatest imbalance between supply and demand.

"So, if you take the fact that for most IT professionals there is a tremendous amount of job opportunity out there, clearly an issue all IT managers should be thinking about is how to retain staff," he said.

And according to Bassat, for IT managers looking to retain staff, "you'll have to work very, very hard".

Bassat says the workforce is becoming increasingly mobile and agrees that it is not uncommon these days for IT managers to change jobs more frequently - perhaps every six months.

"People are prepared to switch jobs and change more than [in the past]. IT managers are hopping from job to job and gaining more experience," Bassat said.

According to the findings of the survey, 78 per cent of respondents are satisfied with their current jobs, while only 31 per cent are totally committed to their current place of employment.

Seek found the remaining respondents are either actively looking for a new job (7 per cent), thinking about it (12 per cent), or would consider moving if they were approached by another company (50 per cent).

Only 25 per cent of the survey respondents agreed they would "rather put up with problems in my current job than have to go through the process of finding a new one".

Bassat said while most feel comfortable about their prospects of finding another job if they left their current one, some prefer not to take the risk - these are the more "conservative" people in the workforce.

Bassat believes there is a power shift in the Australian employment market in favour of employees.

"The economy is strong and employees are taking advantage of that by scanning the employment landscape for other opportunities and keeping their options open," Bassat added.

Bassat said the Internet is fuelling this transitory trend because it provides free access to an enormous range of jobs and this includes sites that will e-mail job opportunities to individuals based on their own selection criteria.

"This is good news for companies scouting for talent, but it will make it increasingly difficult to retain good staff," he said.

For 38 per cent of respondents a higher wage or better package would encourage them to change jobs, with males (46 per cent) more likely than females (29 per cent), to be driven by remuneration.

Bassat said there is a range of factors leading IT professionals to change jobs.

"Salary is one of - if not the - most important things. They can jump from job to job and increase their salary - to a pretty high level," Bassat said.

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