Nearly half of workers intend to change jobs


Amidst our New Year resolutions to lose weight, give up smoking or save more money, the onset of January also prompts many to rethink their career and hunt for a new job.

The arrival of credit card bills for Christmas shopping and a spending spree in the January sales leads many workers to fret about their income and pursue higher-paying employment.

Many workers wait until the New Year to quit their job and look for another because they want the benefit of a Christmas bonus and their annual pay rise. Others associate their current job with dreary cold mornings, long commutes and general January blues. Then there are those who had the misfortune of drinking one too many and saying too much to their boss at the Christmas party.

Indeed, 42 per cent of employees in Ireland resolved to change jobs this January, according to the results of a new survey carried out by The recruitment website described its findings as surprising, given that some 37 per cent of respondents had only worked for their current employer for less than a year.

"Activity in the job market is particularly high in January and February," said Paul Mullan, director of career coaching firm Measurability. "Many individuals see the New Year as the ideal time to seek a new challenge in their career.

"For some jobseekers, it can be something as simple as not getting a bonus or salary increase or returning from the Christmas break and facing three or four months of dark and dampness.

"Others will wait until the bonus cheque has been lodged or they receive their salary increase. After receiving a positive salary review, jobseekers can negotiate with potential employers at the new higher salary and possibly get two increases in salary in a short space of time."

The survey showed that 74 per cent of employees feel a pay rise would make it easier to go back to work in January, while 54 per cent believe a promotion would make a difference to their level of motivation.

Jobseekers also realise that they have a greater choice at this time of year, according to Mr Mullan. That's because many companies introduce new headcount figures during this period and set out to fill a certain number of vacancies.

"For every individual who takes up a new job, their old vacancy has to be filled, thus creating more activity in the market," the career coach said. "Clients will also often hold off hiring until this period as they realise there will be more jobseekers on the market, increasing the choice of candidates available."

In addition to the higher number of positions available at the turn of the year, jobseekers are also enjoying greater choice due to overall increased demand for new staff as the labour market continues to tighten.

Fifty-three per cent of Irish employers expect staff shortages in the months ahead, according to Ibec's latest human resources management survey of 326 organisations.

Younger jobseekers realise there is no such thing as a job for life and are far less loyal to employers than older generations. The Ibec survey found that staff turnover rose to an average 12.3 per cent last year from 9.9 per cent in 2004. A separate study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 65 per cent of companies believed that high staff turnover had a negative effect on their performance and more than half wished to reduce it.

"Multinationals can absorb the cost of a high turnover cost but for small and medium-sized enterprises, it can spell disaster," Mr Mullan said.

"It can result in lower productivity, lower staff morale, increased customer complaints and loss of business opportunity, increased sickness and absenteeism, and higher workloads through management of poor performance. High turnover can also affect an organisation's efforts to attract new candidates through bad PR.

"Prevention is better than cure," Mr Mullan said. "Companies should first look at their recruitment process and ensure that it is robust and that they are making the right hires in the first place."

With demand for talent far exceeding supply, organisations need to improve their methods of retaining top staff. While most organisations are aware of this, it is important that employers realise that money is not the only reason why employees leave. Traffic congestion, higher childcare costs, and widening commuter belts mean flexible working arrangements such as remote working and job sharing are key to keeping employees happy.