Industry employers: overlook itchy feet at your peril

Even though companies are now looking at getting back into the office post-lockdown, the road to normality feels like a long one.

Think the pandemic means your staff aren't considering their next move? Think again, warns Sarah Leembruggen
Think the pandemic means your staff aren't considering their next move? Think again, warns Sarah Leembruggen

Employers have been presented with many challenges in the past few months – the financial ones are obvious, but I wonder whether the deadliest is being overlooked.

What is the impact?

The job market is not a pretty place right now.

Overall, hiring has been frozen by the lion’s share of agencies and many in-house comms teams. Many are flat-out and only hiring if it is ‘business-critical’.

There are a great deal more comms professionals, some of whom are fantastic, looking for roles than there are jobs available right now.

The imbalance is evident, and one can see from the high application rate to jobs on LinkedIn that competition is intense.

Only the fittest will survive.

Having worked through the financial crisis, it’s likely that a fair few people will retrain and leave the industry.

Will people move jobs in this climate?

Funnily enough, a global pandemic will not put everyone off moving jobs, even if they are in a permanent role they think is ‘safe’.

I would guess that 80 per cent of people who were keen to move job prior to the pandemic will still do so.

The number-one reason corporate comms professionals leave their job is lack of career progression.

The unseen challenge for employers

Over the past few months employers have had far more pressing challenges than their employees’ career progression.

However, it is probably their biggest ‘unseen’ challenge right now.

How do you keep your team learning and progressing while working from home?

We may be in this situation for six more months – or perhaps longer.

It is a long time to put your career on hold.

I also get the impression that loyalty is ‘waning’ working from home, as many people have not seen their bosses for months.

Safe, for now

The retention of staff right now is higher as there are fewer options for employees, and some comms professionals will worry about taking a risk and being the last one in the door.

However, the most common age range of a PR professional is 25-34 and moving jobs is less of an issue for millennials.

Don’t be fooled that your employees won’t move

Employers may not see it coming, but their best performers will still leave if they do not feel they are progressing.

Even though we have been dealing with a crisis, employees will be looking out for their career.

When the dust settles more roles will become available, and it will not surprise me if agency turnover shoots up.

Promotions, learning and the feeling of moving forward are all important.

Career aspirations continue, even when we hardly leave the house, and employers should forget this at their peril.

Sarah Leembruggen is managing director of The Works Search

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