Business Careers Output Recruitment Working Culture

Employment, how long do people stay in jobs for?

The answer is not long. Employment has been hit hard over the last couple of years for sure. The impact of Brexit, the Pandemic now a cost of living crisis; it’s no wonder how many people’s careers have been affected.

So what has been the effect? We conducted a poll on LinkedIn and Facebook where people shared with Find Your Flex how long they have been in their current role.

Grass growing under foot? Chance would be a fine thing!

That pretty much sums it up. Out of all our respondents only 11.5% have been in a job for 5 or more years.

Now, it’s not uncommon for people to not want to stay in one job for too long. Or they may even be talented enough to move up the employment ladder quickly.

However, over 11% is alarmingly low especially when you consider the last two years worth of lockdowns. In the height of a pandemic it’s highly unlikely most people outside that margin left their jobs for a promotion or a better offer.

Is there an Employment issue?

When 27.9% have been employed for less than a year? And the same amount of people claimed they had only been employed in their current role between 1-2 years totaling almost a 56% all together. I would say so.

As this implies that the turnover for employers must be high. As employment lasting only 2 years or less cannot be considered normal.

Especially when half of those numbers are within the last 12 months where we have had no lockdowns. Furthermore, according to our Prime Minister employment is at an all time high!

This is further supported by job vacancy numbers which reached a record high between February and April.

The number of job vacancies in February to April 2022 rose to a new record of 1,295,000; an increase of 33,700 from the previous quarter and an increase of 499,300 from the pre-coronavirus.

So clearly there is an employment issue because these stats don’t add up… or do they?

High Employment + Short Range Job Longevity = Widening Pay Gap

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article on the BBC that reported the pay gap between bosses and staff is widening.

And just like that, everything makes sense! Stats that show employment is at an all time high. The majority of people in our polls saying they have held a job for less than 2 years, this is the end result and it makes sense.

How does that work? Well look at it this way: if an entry level employee joins a company how long does it take them to really start working their way up the company ladder, a year or 2? And how many more years before they have really progressed within the organisation?

The problem is; from our stats paired with government research, people are not in the role long enough to really climb the ladder. Whether the working culture is so bad employees leave by choice or they are let go by the company.

Either way that usually means they will be starting a similar role in another organisation. Probably around the same level of the role they left and on a similar rate of pay…

Yet little changes for the business (in the short term), they quickly replace the staff they have lost with new eager workers. Then in the next 6 to 24 months they repeat the process. Productivity is maintained.

There is little-to-no cost in promoting staff to higher paid, yet business and profits may continue to grow and therefore higher executive salaries increase. And this could be one reason why the gap is widening.

Yes the employment rate is great, but the wages are low and during a cost of living crisis that’s a huge employment problem. And it can result in severe consequences for businesses operating this way.

What is the impact for Businesses?

No good ever came from a company having a high attrition rate. It signals to three vital components of business; job seekers, target audiences and potential partners that they do not value staff.

It is never long before high staff turnover leads to a bad business reputation and raises flags for the aforementioned parties. Job seekers do their research, if they see employees don’t last long and why; they won’t want to work for an employer like that.

The same goes for potential business partners, in a society that is focusing more on the way staff are treated, companies won’t want to be guilty by association. Or partner with organisations whose values do not align with their own.

Productivity may be maintained in the short term through eager new employees wanting to impress. But this will ebb away when managers and other employees grow demoralised by having no consistent team and the constant need for training. Then you will see the quality of service decrease.

The Great Resignation and The Big Quit

Now this may come across laying the blame at the door of businesses. That wouldn’t be totally fair; brexit, the pandemic, the current cost of living crisis, these have had an effect on employers and they have had to make tough decisions.

Many businesses have struggled to weather these storms and are now trying to recover, which is not easy. However, the grace period where understanding of companies having high attrition as a result of lockdowns is quickly coming to an end. It will soon be an unacceptable excuse as to why businesses can’t or rather won’t retain staff.

Last year we talked about the ‘Great Resignation’ where employees where seriously considering quitting their role at the time. That seem to have happened if we look at the results of our polls.

This year I have read about a similar movement called ‘The Big Quit’ with employees having similar intentions.

And with job vacancies being at a record high it shows they are following through (although of course the government puts the positive spin on that as a high growth.)

Employees are making their positions clear; provide opportunities or they will look elsewhere and businesses can’t afford to not respond.

The ‘Mutable’ Solution

That’s not as simple as businesses saying “okay we’ll start promoting, raising salaries and providing more flexible working”. That’s neither practical nor sustainable to do all at once.

But there is a solution, one that solves this problem in the present and future. Businesses need to start aiming to become ‘Mutable’.

What is ‘Mutable’? It means being in a stage of constant transformation. Where rather than businesses competing with others they constantly compete with themselves.

This starts with having staff work to an output model rather than an hourly rate. This would especially work well for companies struggling with high attrition.

By buying into a shared workforce, a company can have employees complete weekly tasks and once they are finished the employees have the ability to earn even more elsewhere. Which would fix the turnover issue.

The future of employment, the future of working and the future of business is vastly different from the present. The future is ‘Mutable’. For more information on starting your Mutable journey click here.

Careers Working Culture

What Elements Make Up Toxic Working Culture?

Last month the topic of discussion was Working From Home and I said it was a phrase used so often that the original meaning is sometimes lost. But another phrase often used, especially in the last couple of weeks is Toxic Working Culture or Environment.

I have often heard this used when people explain why they hate or left their job; “It was a toxic working environment and I need/had to get out”. But what constitutes a toxic working culture?

I posted polls on LinkedIn and Facebook. Over 120 people voiced what elements they believes make a working culture toxic.

There was a definite pattern and the results may come as surprise, especially to businesses. But I think employers should also look very closely, as what they think employees consider is a toxic environment may not be the case.

Micromanagement; the Number One Element of Toxic Working Cultures

I’m not surprised people considered this to be a toxic working trait of a workplace. Initially though, I was perhaps a little surprised at just how many people considered it to be the main element of toxic workplace culture.

Almost a third of the people who voted (31.4%) said that they felt that micromanagement is the largest contributor to making a working environment truly toxic.

It makes perfect sense; micromanagement oozes toxicity. Because it demonstrates one of the most de-motivating things an employer can show; a complete lack of trust.

What is micromanagement? It refers to a superior who will constantly seek to oversee, control and direct every aspect of your work from tasks important to minute.

In other words they don’t trust you to do the job correctly, or at the very least don’t trust you to do it as well as they can.

Of course this can come in all shapes and sizes. Constantly checking on you, giving direction on a task you have performed numerous times, strictly regimenting and monitoring your day, breaks, lunch etc. But it all comes down to trust.

And what person feels valued, motivated and confident in their job when you know that your not trusted by the higher ups? This is made worse when you know the person responsible has no business micromanaging aspects of your work they themselves don’t know

This happens far too often and to put it simply; we as employees don’t need that rubbish. You have employed us to do a job, now trust us to get on with it unless there are serious causes to do otherwise.

The alternative is businesses lose good talent. Who could have added so much more value to the company if they had been trusted to do their job.

Management Politics

I hadn’t originally intended to have Management Politics as an option on the poll. Simply because it didn’t spring to mind.

Until I was doing some market research on some businesses on glassdoor. I found that for a couple of businesses Management Politics was a big source for negative critique and was even the cause many former-employees listed their reason for leaving.

It had the second highest votes with 22.3% voting it as a main element of a toxic workplace. Which was quite the considerable number.

What is management politics? In this sense it is used to describe managers putting their own professional or personal agenda over the actual work/team.

For example a manager may wish to gain favour with their superiors by showcasing cost efficiency. The result of this could be a refusal to take on more staff that are severely needed and over-tasking a skeleton team. Another example could be blaming another colleague or department for their own mistakes to avoid reprimand.

But like with micromanagement, management politics can come in all shapes and sizes, but why does this create a toxic working environment?

That can also be a number of reasons, for one; as an employee I want to come to work to do my job, not to be used in a politicking chess match. It is also incredibly de-motivating when a manager puts themselves before their team.

Talk about the original meaning being lost; a manager is meant to be a leader, ensure the team is giving their best performance. That includes taking responsibility for when things go wrong. Standing up to customers and even upper management if their team are treated unfairly.

Inappropriate Behaviour (Sexism, Bullying, Racism etc.)

19% of voters said that inappropriate behaviour is the main element of a toxic working environment.

Racism, Sexism, Homophobia etc. all of it can sadly take place in the workplace. The range of this is massive; it can be anything from full on harassment in these areas to feeding into stereotypes.

The battle is ongoing to eradicate this from not only workplace culture but from society in general. Sadly we see stories where people still feel these behaviours exist and effect their careers.

Some of this can be attributed to unconscious bias or ignorance. While some of it may be more deliberate and underhanded.

Bullying is a highly toxic trait in workplace culture and this still goes on. Let’s not beat around the bush, sometimes, people take a disliking to each other for one reason or another. The results of this are often never good.

Bullying could come from a person with authority, singling a colleague out. Giving them more than their fair share of work, coming down harder on them than other team members or even showing appreciation to everyone else but them.

Cliques also form in the workplace and these seldom lead to anything good. They can also lead to bullying if a number of people decide a fellow colleague is not to their liking.

It can honestly feel like your back in highschool when this type of bullying takes place and it can often go unnoticed. This is especially the case when members of management are part of said clique.

Then the members can feel as though they have a certain level amnesty and can get away with inappropriate behaviour towards others.

Blatant Favourtism

It could be argued that this is a form of management politics, but I do believe it is separate to that. When discussing bullying, I had mentioned that sometimes people take a dislike to each other, the opposite is also true.

How does the old cliche go? It’s not what you know it’s who you know. I never realised before the negative implications behind that saying. But there is certainly truth to it and is it a toxic trait within the workplace?

9% of voters believe it to be a toxic element and I can agree with them on that. Favourtism is never a good thing and going back to clique conversation, even if it doesn’t lead to bullying it can lead to favourtism.

Why is that toxic? Because this can often result in people getting opportunities simply because the manager happens to like them. Whereas staff more deserving off these opportunities, the people who have the talent and work themselves hard, get overlooked.

The reason this toxic is because it builds up a culture of not how hard you work but who you cosy up to. And that is not environment in which talent can thrive. It also doesn’t say much for management that operates in this way either.

Other Toxic Workplace Elements

The above elements are the ones that were the most voted for. However there were several other elements the people believe contribute to a toxic working environment.

Some of the other elements people voted for included; overloading staff with work, blame culture, expected to work any and all shifts put to them. Some of these are aspects of traits already discussed, although they also stand alone.

Overloading Staff with Work

This refers to the extreme of staff expected to take on more work than can be coped with.

This can come from taking on more work due to a lack of staff. Or taking on work that is beyond their job description and even their skill level.

It’s worse if there’s pressure on staff to try and get too much work done within an impossible time-scale.

This pressure can have an effect on staff morale and effect employees mental health. At that point it becomes a toxic working environment.

Blame Culture

Colleagues throwing each other under the bus when things go wrong. Everyone looking out for themselves rather than working together as a team.

This was touched upon within management politics. Although managers blaming their team is certainly part of it, blame culture refers to everyone across the board.

This creates an environment without trust. A backstabbing culture. There would be no motivation or loyalty in a place like that.

Expected to Work Any and All Shifts

There are still businesses out there who expect staff to be “fully flexible”. Or expect you to “work to the needs of the business”.

That’s code for; your life outside of work is irrelevant to us, you will work however we decide, don’t like it? There’s the door.

I’ve lost count of how many times in my previous employment I was told that anytime anyone took issue with a shift. It’s one step removed from zero hour contracts.

So it is understandable why this could be considered an element of a toxic working environment.

How to Change a Toxic Working Culture

When it comes to eradicating a toxic working culture, the only way to really change things is to treat the root cause.

Often that root cause is a lack of self-awareness, unconscious bias or even ignorance on the part of the employer. They may not even know they have a working culture that is toxic.

However, there are telling signs; high attrition rates, staff feedback, low productivity etc. This signals there is a problem even if an employer doesn’t know exactly what is causing it.

In any case, it’s up to businesses to reach out to consultants. Or take notice when a business is reaching out to them due to these issues.

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