Keeping your best people is a primary task for Human Resources

A job for life may now be an outdated notion, but new research has revealed that more than half of the UK’s workers are now ‘career nomads’, having moved not just jobs but their entire career at least once.

Business psychology experts OPP found that among 500 workers selected to be representative of the working population, 52% of people have changed career at least once, with one in five having done so three times.


With almost half of those surveyed being lured to a new career by a bigger salary and one in three looking for a new, more interesting challenge, Human Resources (HR) clearly has a tough job on its hands trying to retain staff.

“A significant amount of us aren’t engaged with our jobs or challenged in what we do.  As recruitment costs continue to rise for employers, careful thought clearly needs to be put into hiring the people best suited for a particular role or career and ensuring they remain motivated,” said OPP’s head of marketing Lucy McGee.


Managing career nomads 

Questions for Human Resources to consider:

  • What framework is there to facilitate the process of career development?
  • How receptive is the organisation to inter-department career moves?
  • Do managers have the skills to conduct effective career development discussions with staff?
  • Do staff understand the process of effective career development?

Focus on training

So how can HR engage with staff better? According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development’s  Recruitment, retention & turnover survey, which was published last month, HR has to focus more effort on training.

The report’s author, Nicola Monson, said: “Employers need to take a proactive approach to talent management to help keep staff engaged. Our research showed that nine out of 10 employers that provided additional training to allow internal staff to develop and fill vacancies said it had a positive impact on attracting and retaining staff.”

Employer brand

The CIPD also advises employers to develop a robust employer brand to support the psychological contract between employer and employee. “There seems to be a lot of effort around using the employer brand as a recruitment tool, but it’s not really being used to help retain existing staff – this needs to happen,” said Monson.

Christina Sensale, principal consultant at HR consultancy Right Management, agreed that employee engagement was key in managing a more fluid workforce. 

“Our observation from working with employees in many organisations is that they still often have a traditional view of career development and believe it is about upward progression and promotion. Given today’s flatter organisational structures, this can result in employees becoming disengaged and demotivated since their perception is that there is no scope for them to develop,” she said. 

Broader perspectives

Employers should, said Sensale, challenge this perception and encourage individuals to broaden their perspective of what constitutes career development.

“This may include secondments, taking on a similar role in a different business area, or a different role in the same business area. This can give employees greater awareness of the wider organisation and the ability to identify and articulate their career interests and transferable skills,” she said.

Sensale added that employees must also be encouraged to take a more proactive approach to managing their careers by seeking out internal career development activities and developing their internal networks.

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