Is the job-for-life mindset returning?

Anthony Haynes writes:  I was struck — shocked, almost — by the headline on a CIPD press release (27 August): “Data shows revival of a job for life mindset”. For one thing, I feel as though, if there was one thing I would put money on, it would be that there would not be a return to a jobs-for-life labour market.

And, for another, the notion seems to be not only unattainable in practice but also far from ‘ideal’. Unless you happen to be in some dream job, doesn’t the prospect of a job for life now sound rather boring? Don’t most of us strive for development, progression, even at times change for change’s sake?

But the headline was certainly arresting, so I read the piece.

Evidently the headline is rather exaggerated. The research, at least as cited in the text of the press release, finds nothing so dramatic as a return to a jobs-for-life mentality. What it finds is something more modest, though nevertheless interest — namely that the average length of time that employees stay in a job has increased (and hence turnover has fallen).

Even more interesting is that the CIPD’s analysis suggests that this is not purely a case of those people in employment sitting tight during a recession, waiting for the jobs market to improve. Other factors seem to include:

  • greater employee engagement and job satisfaction;
  • more career development within companies
  • legislation;
  • demography (more older workers, fewer young ones).

Superficially, the implication for recruitment companies sounds grim: less turnover obviously equates with less opportunity to recruit. An alternative interpretation, however, would be that recruitment companies need to diversify by offering services in the area of human resource development.

This certainly tallies with our own experience: we offer services in the areas of both coaching and leadership development and have certainly noticed an upturn in interest in these services.

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