The short-term attitudes of staff in organisations across Singapore have been the subject of a recent array of articles, and the anecdotes of a mobile workforce that is only interested in the next role do not make pretty reading for companies that want long-term commitment from their employees.

Employers targeting graduates and entry-level job seekers may have the luxury of an abundance of candidates, but once the employees have commenced their careers, their focus turns to advancement and how to progress up the corporate ladder quickly.

In doing so, these employees actively seek new opportunities, hopping from one role to another — and companies are left to play catch-up, chasing new candidates to replace leavers. 

Staff attrition — of which job-hopping is a symptom — is a concern for organisations the world over.

The reason it is so pronounced in Singapore is that strong economies provide a far greater variety of choices and volume of opportunities to the skilled workforce.

With the Asia-Pacific in good shape and Singapore particularly competitive, staff attrition is going to remain high on the talent agenda.  

Job-hopping ultimately means movement between two different companies, and the unspoken consensus is that this is done in the attempt to secure better pay or a higher-level job.

However, there are several other factors that motivate employees to move company, and employers who seek to stem the loss of staff to external opportunities should take these into account.


Societal change

Society is constantly changing, and as younger generations of workers join the workforce they bring a different attitude and a different set of requirements to their roles.

Fifteen to 20 years ago, employees would have a reasonable expectation to be employed by just one or two companies throughout their career, and would focus on a single specialisation.

But today’s workers expect to have multiple roles throughout their career and to work in multiple industries, sectors and disciplines.

The route between each career is not clear, and multiple factors may influence a worker’s decision to move on.

Talent hoarders

It is hard work building a strong team, especially one filled with talented people who work hard and deliver great results.

Managers invest a lot of time in recruiting their teams and developing them, and the temptation will always be to hold onto the best team members for as long as possible.

While understandable, this approach can have unforeseen consequences — if talented and ambitious people are not given the opportunities and challenges that they need within their current company, they will look elsewhere.

Managers who resist, obstruct or prevent internal mobility moves in an attempt to retain their high performers are more likely to see their talent walk out the front door and into another company.

The better option is to be open and honest about career progression, and to be supportive and communicative about opportunities for advancement.

Next: What employers can do to motivate employees to stay

Article by Martin Cerullo, managing director, Development, Asia Pacific, and global director, Resourcing Communications & Innovation, Alexander Mann Solutions.