New Year, New Career

Back in my recruitment advertising days we used to cringe every time we saw that headline. It was usually the last resort of the burnt out copywriter. However, much as I may dislike it, it does certainly have a certain ring of truth.

I am already thinking about all those unhappy souls who will be trudging back to work this month determined to make a new start. There’s nothing like a good Christmas to bring the reality of the rest of the year into sharp relief.

Exactly how many people started job hunting on Friday 2 January 2015? Well, if our own research is right, more than a third of the UK workforce wants to change employer. Yes, that’s right, employer, not job. If that’s true 10,000,000 plus CVs will have been polished before the last of the turkey curry was consumed.

So what’s driving all this career angst? Is it just a short-term post-Christmas hangover? Will we all be over it by St. Valentine’s day? Sadly I think not.

Partly that’s because many are still struggling to get to grips with the realities of the new world of employment. Organisations today tend to be flatter and that means careers are often more about lateral moves (eg between projects) than steps up the career ladder. Less layers means fewer rungs on the ladder anyway. And, with us all working longer, they are farther apart too. If we continue to measure career success just in terms of status and pay then there’s going to be more disappointment than opening another parcel only to find it contains yet more socks…

My real concern though is that by August Bank Holiday many of those who do move in January will be starting to question “what’s changed?” Yes they might have secured the short term gratification of a bit more cash. And yes they might have swapped a particularly unpopular boss for another one. However deep down is work any more exciting and interesting than it was before?

We spend so much of our lives at work it shouldn’t be a chore. We should relish it not resent it. Going through the motions helps neither the employer nor the employee. Just turning up, doing the minimum to survive and then going home again isn’t engagement in anyone’s language. It doesn’t deliver great results or customer service. Nor does it drive great innovation or quality. It leads to the cult of “getting by” with the outcome being, at best, mediocre. No business or individual is driven to success on a tide of that.

This year I want to lay down two challenges.

  1. I’d like employers to reflect hard on what it takes to create an environment where people are motivated to deliver their best.
  2. I’d like individuals to be clear about what they really want from work and set a course for being energised and happy. That might take more than just swapping one job for another.

If we get that right then this time next year the headline might instead be New Year, Staying Here.

To get both sides thinking we’ll be publishing two Free papers early this year. “Motivation and careers” will help employers think through what it takes to create a high motivation working environment. “Working to live” will help individuals re-assess their career priorities in the new world of work.

Ian Gooden
Chief Executive

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