New retention data shows Baby Boomers trump Gen Z

Australia’s shift-based workforce is increasingly mobile and less loyal according to new data from employee management solution, Deputy.

Launched on 18 November, The Deputy Churn Report 2016 tracked the profiles of more than 30,000 employees who left their roles in 2016. The data compares shifts from Australia’s five major cities across four industries, and weighs up the differences between generations and key demographics to reveal trends and insights into Australia’s shifting workforce.

Deputy’s research highlights the need for employers to adjust their approach to an upwardly mobile shift workforce or prepare for financial shocks, such as additional costs of recruiting more new staff, and more frequently.

“The composition of the Australian workforce is changing, partly because of a switch back to service industries within Australia, but it can also be attributed to the increased focus on flexibility from workers, as well as their bosses,” says Kristin Harris, General Manager of Deputy.

“Part time and flexible shift work has always been attractive to young people and students, what’s interesting is that the wider national trend shows older workers seeking the same versatility from employers, that will likely drive fiercer demand for part time or flexible working hours in the future.”

The research found that almost half (49 per cent) of new hires within the hospitality industry move on within 12 months. Staff loyalty was also found lowest in the hospitality sector (eight months average retention) compared to retail (10 months), and healthcare (15 months).

According to the study findings, Adelaide had the the highest staff retention, with workers staying in their job on average 11 months, followed by Melbourne at 10 months, Sydney and Perth at nine months, and Brisbane at eight months.

With the move to paid-by-the-hour jobs, shift workers are becoming increasingly mobile, with Deputy’s report showing these workers are leaving their jobs after only 9.5 months on average.

Although there are potential benefits associated with workers moving between jobs, such as fresh ideas, new perspectives and a renewed enthusiasm, this workforce trend has fuelled a trade-off between labour mobility and job stability.

Anthony Rous, CFO of Kennard’s Storage, recognises that flexible work conditions can be attractive for many skilled workers, but there can be substantial costs to the business in lost productivity and avoidable recruitment costs if workers don’t stay in the job long.

“The ability of workers to move between jobs means getting the right person and then retaining them is becoming a key concern. Beyond the financial costs, we spend a lot of time recruiting, developing and training our team, and losing this investment in skills and people doesn’t come cheap,” he says.

“We will be continuously working on engagement and retaining the future workforce. For the emerging generations, work-life fit is valued more than compensation, growth or skill development. We have to facilitate the necessary adjustment to retain a stable and experienced workforce.”

With the cost of staff turnover in the workplace often overlooked, recruitment could become a costly cycle.

On average, Gen Z (1995+) hospitality workers leave their job after 8 months, Gen Y workers leave after 11 months, Gen X workers stay for 16 months, and Baby Boomers on average 20 months. In reality, Deputy’s Kristin says businesses that can make the most of the different generational employment life-cycles will come out on top.

“Although hiring mostly younger workers can result in a higher staff turnover, their technology savviness, creativity, and stamina all tend to complement the advantages of older workers that include experience, complex decision-making capacity, and increased stability from longer retention rates,” she says.

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