January is a tense time in the office. Often reluctant to return after the Christmas break, many employees are distracted, their minds turned towards the new year, new resolutions… and new jobs.
A look at Google trends demonstrates this seasonal restlessness, with searches for “jobs” and “holiday destinations” peaking at the beginning of every year.
In order to identify the proportion of the workforce considering a change of job this January, and to uncover the primary reasons behind their discontent, we surveyed 3000 workers from across the UK.
When surveyed, 23% of respondents said that they were already in the process of looking for new opportunities.
While it may be comforting to focus on the 42% that aren’t currently contemplating the next step in their career, employers should not ignore the fact that more than 1 in 5 are arriving back to work with serious engagement issues.
The data highlights this as an immediate concern, with more respondents signalling their intent to start looking elsewhere within the next month, than at any other point this year.
“Employers are at highest risk of losing key employees in January and February,” says Dan Rogers, co-founder of Peakon. “The first couple of weeks of the year are the peak for new job hunting. After an extended break, coming back to work to a disengaging or unsatisfying role prompts many employees to reconsider their future at a company."
"The key thing for managers to do is to hit the ground running with their team immediately as they come back to work. They need to make sure they have the right discussions with employees about their future; goals for the year, career development, additional responsibilities etc. That gives them a window of opportunity to nip early-January employee blues in the bud before it escalates into late-January employee quitting."
When those considering a new role were asked for the primary reason behind their intention, 24% stated that they were motivated by the thought of a career change. This is closely followed by those choosing to look elsewhere because they feel underpaid (23%).
“It is very interesting to see the desire for a career change rank so highly, and this will be a huge surprise to employers and managers,” says Dan Rogers. “These employees aren’t looking to leave because of a particular grievance. Instead, their interest in new opportunities is motivated by a broader disengagement.”
“This is troubling for HR leaders and line managers, as the key to re-engaging these individuals isn’t always obvious. Their interest in a new career path is a symptom of a lack of intrinsic motivation in their current role. While there is no easy fix for this - extrinsic rewards, such as a pay-rise, promotion or bonus would have no impact - there are a few more subtle approaches that managers can take.”
The needs for growth and purpose feature in almost every theory of motivation. Providing your team with a clear career path is a sure-fire way to ensure that they envisage a future with your organisation.
Feedback is key, especially for the Millennials in your workplace. Acknowledging the successes of your team provides them with a feeling of accomplishment - an important source of intrinsic motivation according to Self Determination Theory.
Employees that are aligned with the goals and strategy of their organisation exhibit much higher levels of motivation than those who are not. An effective way of ensuring that your employees identify with the vision of the business is to involve them in the strategic planning process. For more ideas, see our management guide on How To Effectively Communicate Strategy To Employees.
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