It might just be a desire sunbake on the beach as summer rolls in, or it may be a sign of very bad things to come, but a recent report found that 37% of professionals want to change jobs next year.  What could be motivating this desire for mass exodus? And do professionals just want a change jobs, or are they wanting out of the corporate world entirely? According to Entrepreneur.com, more and more professionals want to opt out of the corporate lifestyle altogether, and are choosing instead to start their own businesses, or freelance full-time.  So why is this happening? And what can organisations do about it?

Reason 1: People want values-based employment

Professionals these days are not naïve, nor are they confused about what they want.  Increasingly, individuals want more protean-type careers – careers with organisations whose values they share, and who can provide a ‘path with a heart’ as opposed to a mere economic exchange.  More organisations of this vein now exist – organisations which truly care about their people, their impact, and their overall contribution to society in.  These organisations reward their employee’s efforts with flexibility, transparency, and personal growth (in and outside of work), as opposed to trying to squeeze more productivity out of their employees with longer hours and higher expectations.  Who wouldn’t want to work for an organisation like that?

What organisations can do: Organisations who find they are losing their best employees to more values-based organisations can, indeed, try to emulate this values-based employment themselves.  Offering your employees a more creative, collaborative and flexible workplace is a great start.    

Reason 2: Being your own boss has never been easier  

As little as a decade ago, the decision to be an entrepreneur or freelancer was fraught with uncertainly, expensive, and there was a high chance you’d fail.  Now? Not so much. With the advent of the internet, everything is now available at everyone’s fingertips – from a advice on how to start a startup, to a multitude of sites to connect you to a low-cost specialists, who will help you with everything from website design to managing your finances.  Furthermore, LinkedIn and similar networking tools are allowing freelances to connect directly with clients, without the agency premium.  It therefore both cheaper, and easier, to set up your own business than it has ever been.

What organisations can do: Organisations who think they can eclipse their employee’s entire lives will be at the highest risk of losing their employees, if they are at all entrepreneurially inclined.  Organisations are, then, best placed to allow their employees flexibility to pursue their own side projects,  or also consider allowing their employees to contract back into their existing roles if they want to freelance, an arrangement which can be beneficial for both the employer, and the employee.

Reason 3: Everyone has FOMO

Social media has brought a deluge of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to most people’s lives.  It is now easier than ever to get a glimpse of ‘where you’d rather be,’ or from a career perspective, ‘what you’d rather do.’ And not only are we regularly being bombarded with images and information about people who seem happier in their jobs that we do, but finding these jobs is also easier than ever.  Jobseekers can opt in to notifications from Seek or Linked that detail the latest jobs matching their skills and experience, and now, you can apply for many jobs simply using your LinkedIn profile.  This means that people are in a constant state of employment FOMO, and are liable, at any time, to take advantage of this.  

What organisations can do: Despite other people’s jobs being easier than ever to see, and potentially take, employees who are genuinely engaged, challenged and happy will be less likely to stray.  So instead of trying to ban ‘seek.com.au’ at your workplace, focus instead on optimising employee engagement and making your workplace one which others fear missing out on.  

 We may have reached the age and stage of mass corporate professional exodus.  However, with awareness, effort, and dedication to change, organisations should be able to stem the tide of exits through offering their employees a more creative, collaborative and flexible workplace.  

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