Australia: A nation of job-hoppers

by Cameron Edmond23 Sep 2013

Globally, Australian workers are the most likely to have changed jobs in the last 12 months, as research shows 62% have changed their jobs in the last year.

Figures from the Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) also shows 26% of employees have considered changing jobs but haven’t made the leap, leaving only 12% uninterested in a shift.

Karen Colfer, managing director of Kelly Services Australia and New Zealand, said that employers must be aware that their highly mobile workforce isn’t going to be quelled by offering more pay.  The research found that only 9% of Australians will change jobs to improve their compensation/benefits, compared to 13% internationally. Personal growth and development was the reason for 17% of churn, down from the global amount of 20%.

“For businesses who are finding the current economic environment challenging, this is actually quite a positive message, as retaining the best staff doesn’t necessarily add more cost, just a greater focus on creating the right environment,” Colfer said.

Seeking to find what does drive Australian employees, the survey gauged what features impacted whether an employee would recommend their employer to a job-seeking friend. Most influential was company culture/reputation (32%), followed by opportunities for advancement (18%), work-life balance (16%), challenging/interesting work (16%) and flexible schedules (10%).

“It’s telling that company culture and reputation features so strongly in employees’ recommendations, underscoring how important it is to focus on culture in order to attract and retain the best employees,” Colfer stated.

Company culture in Australia is driven primarily by the style of management, with 63% of employees stating that their direct manager/supervisor impacted their satisfaction and engagement.

Employees stated that managers seeking to improve engagement should focus on training opportunities, clarifying responsibilities, goals and objectives and transparency with communications.

True to its reputation, it looks like the nation of job-hoppers won’t be slowing down, with those surveyed showing the signs of taking another leap soon.

“Only about half of the employees we surveyed that had changed employers in the last year are happy in their new role,” Colfer stated. “The key reason they are unhappy in their new job is that the role in reality isn’t what they expected.”

While many view high turnover as something to combat and decrease, Orly Lobel, professor of Law at The University of San Diego, wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek that losing talent isn’t always a bad thing, and employers can turn it into a positive.

Lobel stated that having to find new talent – especially in higher-ranking roles – is how an organisation can remain fresh and vibrant. High turnover can help organisations avoid the trappings of groupthink and being dismissive of new ideas. Employers should be treating their ex-staff as alumni the same way an educational institution does, wearing their successful former employees as badges of honour and thus improving their employer branding.


Do you have high turnover in your organisation? What do you think drives this, and do you agree with Lobel’s strategies for turning it into a positive?



  • by Romy Panzera 24/09/2013 9:51:01 AM

    This is interesting on a number of levels. Such as ;
    Job satisfaction and talent retention maybe shifting toward softer engagement policies rather than hard cash incentives.
    How to attract and retain employees by using this knowledge.
    How to manage a parallel program of talent movement by influencing change and creativity through employee churn

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