Loyalty out as job hopping becomes the new norm

by HCA19 Sep 2012

Australians who have been in their jobs five years or more are something of a dying breed, according to recently released labour mobility stats from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

However, where necessary, there are steps that can be taken to improve employee loyalty.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics survey of labour mobility found:


  • 56% of Australia's 11.5 million workers had been in their jobs fewer than five years, while 20% had been in their jobs less than a year.
  • About 66% of women who left work during the year to February did so voluntarily, while only 60% of men did.
  • An estimated 240,000 men were retrenched compared with 149,000 women.
  • Managers, followed by professionals and clerks, were least likely to switch jobs, while sales workers were the most likely to change jobs.
  • Employees might change their jobs, but they were not likely to change their occupation: Of the 1.4 million managers who left work during the year just 77,000 did not move into a new management job, and just 90,000 of the 990,000 labourers who left work did not take up a new labouring job.

These survey findings depict a labour market in far more flux than that portrayed by official releases regarding employment figures.

Diminishing employee loyalty has been commented upon by a range of workplace experts in recent times. In a Financial Times article, workplace specialist Lynda Gratton wrote that loyalty, a virtue prized in personal relationships, had disappeared altogether in the workforce due to the globalised high speed economy. The result, she said, was “shortening contracts, outsourcing, automation and multiple careers”.

Meanwhile, workplace consultant David Helvadjian previously told HC Online that “if you really want loyalty and trust to prosper, engagement is the key”. For companies looking to reignite loyalty, he said it was paramount that employers clearly communicated the mission and purpose of their company, as well as clearly communicated employee’s roles so there was no confusion whatsoever.

"When we look at different businesses, if engagement is high, turnover is low. If people are engaged, they will feel valued and a part of something they can remain loyal to, and they can therefore learn and grow. If employees feel that management doesn't listen to them, they will go elsewhere to have those needs met," Helvadjian said.

By talking to employees about what they do well, turnover could be reduced, he continued. “We did a study of 65,000 employers, and those who provided feedback had 15% greater retention. By sitting down and talking about their strengths, [employees] will feel valued, and like they’re in an environment where they feel they’re being told what they’re doing well instead of focusing on their weaknesses.”

The following tips may help increase loyalty and decrease turnover:

  • At least bi-annually ensure someone at work has talked to your employees about their individual progress.    
  • Ensure employees know what is expected of them at work.    
  • Ensure employees have the materials and equipment to perform their job description.
  • Encourage employee development.    
  • Genuinely care about employee’s opinions and make them count when they are given.
  • Make sure your company’s mission or purpose is clearly communicated while making employees feel their job is important.    
  • Create an environment where the workforce is committed to quality work.