It’s becoming increasingly true that there is no longer such thing as a job for life.

The average worker today stays at their job for 4.4 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and younger people only stay in their roles for only half that time.

In fact 91% of people born between 1977 and 1997 expect to stay in their job for less than three years and will probably undertake 15-20 different jobs in their lifetime.

Further research by CIPD suggests that a third of organisations from all sectors report increased staff turnover in 2013 compared to the previous year. 

So what does that mean for your organisation?

Do you take steps to improve your staff retention? Realising that your employees are fundamentally your greatest asset and that you should do anything you possibly can to keep hold of them for as long as possible?

Or do you accept that job-hopping is just becoming a normal part of working culture now, and that you need to look at things a little differently?

In a recent interview held at Cannes Lion, the vice president and chief media and ecommerce officer of Mondelez Bonin Bough discussed this very problem. 

As agencies and organisations alike struggle to retain talent, it’s clear that a shift in thinking needs to occur…

We have to change the model. So it’s no longer about saying come work for me for 24 years, it’s come and work with me for 24 months.

In order for this to happen, there needs to be a value exchange; turning around the idea that a company should take what it can from an employee, by instead giving a lot more back in return.

Attracting employees

There are numerous ways to attract new employees to a business, and most of these centre around putting people first… 

  • Offer a great working environment
  • Offer plenty of rewards in terms of pay, benefits and bonuses
  • Offer plenty of other smaller perks too, something like free breakfast and lunch can be just as beneficial to your staff morale as the above
  • Encourage creativity and personality
  • Listen to ideas
  • Be transparent about operations
  • Be entirely visible about career development and promotion opportunities

These will of course help you to retain staff over time as well, however there is one area that will become even more vital as our attitudes towards employee turnover changes…

  • Training and skills development

By offering training in a variety of relevant disciplines, you increase your attractiveness as a prospective place to work. 

If a person can come into your organisation and after two years be able to say that they have developed their skills to the point where they have become a more marketable employee and accelerate their career, then this is only going to reflect well on your organisation.

As Bough explains…

I don’t care if you can go double your salary elsewhere, in fact I want you to double your salary and tell every single person the reason you were able to double it is because you worked for Mondelez.

Insight from the workforce

For ground-level opinions, I asked various employees working in digital about their thoughts and feelings on the subject.

(Names of interviewees and employers have been kept anonymous for reasons of sensitivity)

A campaign manager working for a major newspaper publisher had this to say about how important skills development is when looking for a new job:

Working within the digital media industry means that there are obviously a lot a of changes that occur over the year, such as emerging technologies and new strategies etc. So keeping up with this pace of change in terms of training and learning new skills is very important. If a company does not offer skills and development training then personally I could not see myself staying in that role for more than two years, as by the time you leave the company your skill set will be so far behind the rest of the industry, which has continued to develop while you have been standing still on the career shelf.

I also asked a digital project manager, with extensive experience in the public sector, about whether they would feel guilty about ‘using’ a new job role and the training it offers in order to just develop their own career progression?

Depends on the sector. I would feel uncomfortable exploiting training opportunities in the charity or even public sector if I knew that I wasn’t invested in the role. In the private sector, I would take every opportunity given and would not feel guilty in the slightest. I feel it should be understood that an employer is taking a risk by upskilling but not providing job security. The emphasis is on the employer to utilise newly trained staff.

A marketing manager working in Cambridge had this to say when I asked if they are likely to stay in their job for more than two years?

No, two years is definitely the timeframe you need to assess what your next steps are. Any longer and you run the risk of never moving on, which means you stop pushing yourself and just do what you’ve always done. That doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the company, but there has to be clear progression path for me to stay. 

Finally I asked a marketing executive working in Leeds whether they would you move to another company for its excellent ‘skills development’ reputation, even if that company didn’t offer other benefits (pension, bonuses, other perks)?

Maybe. If a company offered training and development in a particular area I was looking to gain skills in, then yes. And if a company offered continuous training and development throughout your career, that could be worth more in the long run than a 2% bonus scheme and free beer on Fridays.

So clearly this is something modern organisations need to be aware of. Of course any skills development and training needs to aligned to up-to-date digital practices, otherwise the training itself is pointless.

This will also benefit industry as a whole. As more digitally skilled workers flood the market, this will enable an even faster process of digital transformation for companies that would otherwise be struggling.

How Econsultancy can help organisations and individuals

At Econsultancy we offer Custom Digital Training Programmes. We can design the perfect in-company training programme highly relevant to your organisation and your team, which can be anything from an interactive workshop series to a complete conference. If you think we may be able to help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

If you’re an individual looking to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie in digital, then you can use our Digital Skills Index. This covers 10 core digital topics, and by selecting the topics that you want to focus on, we’ll show you how you measure up against your peers.