Unable to rely on the long-term loyalty of staff, employers need to learn to work the new marketplace
It was not too long ago that opinion-formers first wrote that the concept of a "job for life" was in steady decline. The recession of the early Nineties and the massive wave of redundancies that followed confirmed this view.
Since then employers and employees alike have been exploring a range of new contractual relationships. And a decade on, as another downturn looms, it appears that employees have not only learnt to guard against complacency but are taking action to ensure they retain a degree of control over the length of their job tenure.
The recent stable economic climate and increasingly mobile workforce have, it seems, combined to produce an environment where talented people are beginning to surf from job to job - and this trend could be catching.
HR consultancy Cubiks has completed a survey, Predicting the Workplace in 2010, which confirms that many companies are beginning to accept they can no longer rely on the extended loyalty of staff.
More than two-thirds of respondents said that employee turnover levels will have increased by the end of the decade. Similarly, more than 70 per cent of companies said they expect to see a decrease in the average length of an employee's service.
It is no exaggeration to suggest that we are fast approaching the time when passive job seekers switch their allegiance from one company to the next as they are hired to work on specific projects.
The standard response from employers is that they would consider making greater use of shorter, fixed-term contracts - with a number of respondents confirming that this is their plan.
If this is the case, it is vital that companies do all they can to maximise the performance of their workforce in the limited time they spend at the firm. The fact remains that an organisation is only as good as the skills of its employees. Even if a business is not market- or capital-constrained, it will not be able to realise opportunities if it cannot rely on the skills and knowledge of talented people.
As always, the key to this issue is effective selection and development. It is imperative that employers know how to identify people who will achieve results and deliver a quick return on recruitment or training investment.
Businesses need to invest time and resources in a