Categories
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.

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Productivity, Productivity, They’ve all got it in for Me!

The figures from the Office of National Statistics are in and they make for very interesting reading. What figures are these? Productivity estimates for Q4, 2021.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The figures show that remote, flexible working has created a more productive workforce. Not just productive, but a workforce that is more productive working fewer hours.

Line Graph showing the increase of Output Productivity and hours worked from 2008 to 2021.
(Line Graph showing the increase of Output from 2008 to 2021.)

The Productivity Numbers Don’t Lie!

There is a vast amount of statistical detail and analysis behind the figures produced by the ONS so I’ll keep it simple. Prior to the pandemic, average hours worked by UK workers were 32.1 a week. For the final quarter of 2021, it is estimated the average number of hours worked was 31.6 per week. Output, however, was 0.8% above 2019 levels.

Interestingly, on the day these figures were published, my wife had been working in her office. It was the first time she had gone to her workplace for ages. I happened to tell her about the ONS stats and she said: “Well I left the house this morning at 7.30am and I’m just back now, so that’s a 12 hour day and I’ve spent maybe six of that actually working.”

I think my wife’s comment sums up the problem with the old, inflexible working culture. Everyone wasted time commuting to an office to use a laptop when that same device works perfectly well at home.

So to Maximize Productivity should we Abolish Office Working?

No, I am not suggesting we should get away of all offices forever. I think that is unrealistic and they do serve a purpose for team building, training, occasional meetings etc. Nonetheless, the figures suggest a predominantly home-based workforce, one that doesn’t pollute the planet travelling to work each day, is more productive.

I had long wondered what impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on productivity. It was reasonable to think things could be that bad because I didn’t hear any employers saying the productivity of their staff had tanked when the ‘work from home’ orders were in place in England. I have to caution that the ONS stats are estimates, but if they are correct, they show that remote work is productive work (It is also worth noting this set of stats are the first set to be produced following the ending of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which had an impact on productivity levels).

Creating a Productive Future of Working.

What I hope this leads to is a discussion about presenteeism and flexibility. If you can be more productive working fewer hours, why should you be online or in the workplace simply because your contract says you should? Better still, if you can be more productive without travelling to a workplace, why should you experience the stress of making that journey in the first place?

This is particularly relevant for fathers. Research carried out at the beginning of the pandemic by the Fatherhood Institute found dads spent more time with their families and took on more of the domestic burden when they no longer had to commute to work.

Could we possibly reach a point where employment contracts state that they expect you to work: “38 hours a week or until you have completed allotted tasks to your manager’s satisfaction, whichever comes first”? I’d like to think this is the next logical step.

Prioritising Productivity Going Forward.

Now is the time to ask these questions. The work from home order is no longer in place in England and it does feel like we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. Potential conflict in the Ukraine and Prince Andrew’s legal battles are dominating the news headlines (for all the wrong reasons I should stress) but COVID is way down the news agenda. After two years of this nonsense, we seem to be drifting to a point where we are adapting our lives and accepting the fact COVID is here to stay.

What COVID did was get everyone thinking about working culture: Employees, employers, trade unions, academics and policy makers. As part of this drift to a new normal, we must not forget about the progress made in adopting flexible and remote working. There’s now evidence to show productivity has improved by working this way. If anything, now is the time to shout loudest to make sure we don’t slide back to less productive working patterns. After all, unproductive working patterns are bad for everyone.

To find out more about Output based working have a read of our piece on Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work!

Categories
Careers Flexible Working Future of work Output

Input and Output – The Human Mechanics of Work

In work, how much focus is there on input as opposed to output? Jobs and projects are often defined by the number of hours that must be worked, where and when they must be worked, the personal qualities and experiences that are required to be inputted and so on. By defining such matters at the outset, there is a sense that this will inexorably lead to the desired result.

Time and Motion

A prominent human time-motion study was carried out by Frederick Taylor. An employee’s work in a factory would be timed with a stopwatch and from that the output would be calculated. Human beings were treated as automatons and indeed much of the manufacturing work done in Taylor’s era would be done by machines today. There was an emphasis on control within strictly defined limits with no flexibility for a person to manage their own input in the way that suited them and their lives in order to reach the same output destination.

Start at the destination

Output is crucial as it is how we define and measure attainment and how we tackle the bottom line of making money.

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

This method requires having a clear, overriding vision of what the outcome should be and then crystallising that into a useable set of statements. If you have an output mission statement, the question arises as to what extent you need to control input.

Job descriptions

The most immediate way of controlling input is through a job description which refers exclusively to inputs rather than outputs. Many such statements also contain a plethora of attributes that may not actually be required for the job in hand.

For example, “outgoing” may be used as recruiting requirement for new employees. But if a person is working from home on invoicing with little direct human contact, is “outgoing” really an absolutely necessary quality? The output is that a certain number of invoices need to be processed in timely manner. If that is fulfilled, the intended outcome has been reached. The employee concerned may indeed be an introvert or someone who is neurodiverse but who thrives on procedure and steadily gets the job done well.

Monitoring

Getting the most out of employees and hitting targets is an art form, with styles ranging from micro-management to complete laissez-faire. By focusing on the output, however, a worker has more freedom about how to reach the point of success.

Clearly some sectors are, of their nature, regimented. NHS nurses and those operating customer service helplines must be present at certain times and follow defined procedures. But a more nuanced approach can be used to effect where there is scope for autonomy.

For example, if you need a project to be completed in a month, is it necessary to dictate exactly how it is done? A person can work flexibly to suit their needs, doing the work later on in the evening, at home, or whenever is convenient. Obviously, the worker would need to be available to participate in relevant team meetings and would need some supervision along the way. But checking in on whether the work is being doing correctly is not the same as checking up how the employee is doing it in terms of personal time management and working strategy.

Mechanisms

When it comes to machines, we have chemistry and physics equations to help us determine precisely what goes in, when, in what proportions and what should come out. Humans are rather more complicated, approaching matters according to their personal characteristics, commitments and lifestyles. When it comes to people, different inputs can create the same output. With that in mind, it’s now time to take the “output challenge” and review how we recruit and manage people

emails suck right? Not ours.

subscribe here for your regular dose of flex news and jobs… (no spam we promise!)

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse on this website, you accept the use of cookies for the above purposes.