Employees looking for new opportunities in 2010

Two-thirds of respondents to survey say they’d take up a new job offer

Taking a different tack to firms such as Hudson that survey employers, AbsoluteIT recently conducted a poll of employees' intentions for this year.

Utilising a database of approximately 3800 IT industry staffers it has built up, AbsoluteIT asked if employees were seeking new jobs and directions.

Two-thirds answered "yes", with just over half saying they are looking now, but waiting to actually apply until the right role comes up, while the rest are actively seeking new roles.

That makes a change from the situation a year ago, AbsoluteIT director Grant Burley says.

For many respondents, "if you'd asked them the same question, they probably would have said 'yes, I'm keeping an eye on the market, but now's not a good time to be looking'," Burley says.

"They would have said 'I'd move if the opportunity came my way', but opportunities were few and far between."

The end of a contract was given as the main reason for wanting to move on, but ignoring that, "time for a change", "lack of career progression", "skills not being utilised" and "low salary" were the main reasons for seeking a change.

The fact that salary considerations ranked fourth shows that money "isn't as big a reason as you might think," Burley says.

There were some differences in reasons for different generations wanting to move on.

Baby boomers cited time for a change and the ending of a contract as the main reasons, whereas Generation X (those aged 30 to 44) cited those two reasons plus lack of career progression.

Generation Y, those aged up to 29, said more opportunity to utilise their skills and wanting to travel were the main reasons.

The response of the baby boomers, those aged 45 and over, is concerning for employers, Burley says.

"These people are typically the more experienced and most valuable to employers.

"They're key individuals who are now looking for a change, so this is an important time to make sure staff are being listened to."

While pay only ranked fourth as a reason for moving on, it can become a significant factor when combined with the other reasons, and now could be a good time for employers to make offers to staff they don't want to lose, Burley says.

AbsoluteIT's commentary on the survey results notes, "employers should be considering the remuneration of their employees, and consider making salary increases before it becomes a bargaining tool between the candidate and their potential new employer".

For those employers who can't afford pay rises, Burley says, "there are more creative ways of keeping staff on, such as flexible working hours."

Being prepared to negotiate on what proportion of their working hours staff spend in the office is a key factor, he says.

"While it's important to have staff in-house during core hours, it's very valuable to offer them the chance to work in with family commitments."

He cites AbsoluteIT itself as an example.

"We do that and find it works very well for us."

The results of the survey aren't all doom and gloom for employers; when asked if they would recommend their current employer to friends or family, 81 percent of respondents said "yes".

Burley's interpretation of this is: "it's not that they're dissatisfied with their work environment.

"They think quite highly of their employer and may just have had a chance to think 'what else is out there?".

One-third of respondents mentioned that their employers' own intranets and other internal resources were places they were looking to find new opportunities, Burley says.

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