Today’s employees more willing to move on

Better pay and benefits, and more flexible work arrangements, are major factors that could lure your workers away

By: Mario Canseco

Half of B.C. residents, while not looking for a new job, would consider a new opportunity should it come up, a new survey suggests.

The number of employed who said they are looking for a new job right now increased from 10 per cent in 2013 to 15 per cent in 2014. The proportion of employee who had no plans to leave their current position fell from 47 per cent to 33 per cent in 12 months, according to the annual Dream Employer survey.

The survey, done by Insights West in partnership with Miles Employment Group and the Vancouver Board of Trade, provides information on how British Columbians feel about the job they have and the job they would like to have.

With only a third of employed British Columbians happy and staying put, it is clear that the days of spending decades in a single company are long gone. Employees now are constantly ready for new openings, aided by social networks like LinkedIn, which allow them to be in touch with companies they are targeting and contacting people to network with. It is not necessarily a question of lack of loyalty, but of identifying the moment when the opportunities for growth, more money and more responsibilities disappear in the current workplace.

Insights West asked employed British Columbians what factors would persuade them to leave their current job. In spite of all the talk about new, cool workplaces that feature beer on tap, nap rooms or in-house gyms, two-thirds of respondents listed better pay, better medical benefits, better bonuses, profit sharing, and more opportunities for advancement as the main elements that would factor into their decision to choose a job.

It is not a surprise that compensation and better bonuses are ranked so highly, as most people would be reluctant to abandon a job to earn less. But the answers on opportunities for advancement suggests that there are many people in the province who feel the opportunities at their workplace are no longer satisfactory. Medical and dental benefits have become essential for many, particularly for those who have a family.

Still, the emphasis on flexibility has increased dramatically in recent years. The office follows us everywhere. We are expected to answer company-issued phones at night, and work on our company-issued laptops on weekends. In many cases, bosses are unaware of the effect that this type of demand may have on workers and their personal lives. It has become the norm to be “on call” at all times.

So, if the era of the 9-to-5 job is over, why are employers still following antiquated guidelines on the time work starts and finishes? An employer who would allow workers to arrive later or leave early would be attractive. And more than half of respondents supported the notion of having “unlimited vacation time, as long as the work is done.”

Getting to the workplace, or avoiding it altogether sometimes, is more important for British Columbians than having stylish amenities. A majority of respondents would consider taking a new job if it gave them the chance to work from home, and two in five consider the office’s physical location as a benefit.

The proportion of employees who would be swayed by a trendy office is decidedly smaller. Roughly one-in-four said they would be ready to choose a company that offered a gym membership and social events for employers. Even fewer would be dazzled by the chance to have in-office massages or a nap room.

The true secret to luring top talent away from other companies appears to lie in flexibility, the results suggest. Allowing workers to set their hours, and respecting the work they conduct after hours and on weekends at home, will go a long way in closing the deal with prospective job seekers. Our province’s workforce is looking for the flexibility to have a beer, nap or workout at a time and place of their choosing, instead of feeling compelled to do all three at the office.


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Photograph: Lisa Risager