staff turnover
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Retail employees are among the least loyal Australian shift workers, with a new study finding many leave after just 10 months in the job.

The study, commissioned by employee management firm Deputy, analysed more than 30,000 new hires and departures across four industries over the past 12 months.

Kristin Harris, Deputy general manager, said the research shows that working traditional full-time hours of 9-5 for a single employer is no longer the norm. This means employers need to adjust their approach to hiring and prepare for the additional costs of recruiting more new staff, 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,” she said.

Deputy also found that while part-time and flexible shift work has always been attractive to young people and students, a national trend shows older workers seeking the same versatility. “[This] will likely drive fiercer demand for part-time or flexible working hours in the future,” explained Harris.

The cost of staff turnover in the workplace is often overlooked, and recruitment could become an expensive cycle. CEO of Kennard’s Storage, Anthony Rous, said that while flexible work conditions can be attractive to workers, there can be substantial costs to businesses.

“The ability of workers to move between jobs means getting the right person and then retaining them is becoming a key concern,” he said. “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.”

A generation gap was also revealed in the study. The difference in tenure between older and younger workers is large: Gen Z (born from 1995 onward) stay in a job for eight months on average while baby boomers stay for 20 months. Harris said employers can make the most of the different generational employment life-cycles.

“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 said.

Rous is focused on engagement and retaining his staff, and said the approach to staff may need to change as more young people enter the workforce. “For the emerging generations, work-life fit is valued more than compensation, growth of skill development. We have to facilitate the necessary adjustment to retain a stable and experienced workforce.”

At a glance:

Industry trends—Retail workers leave after just 10 months, with an average annual industry turnover of 41%.

Staff loyalty is also lowest in hospitality (8 months average retention) and retail (10 months), and highest in healthcare (15 months).

Generation gap—Gen Z workers are the most disengaged, leaving their workplaces after only 8 months, not far behind are Gen Y workers, who leave after 11.

Baby boomers seem to be the most loyal, staying with their employer for an average of 20 months, ahead of Gen X workers who stay for 16 months.

State vs state—Adelaide leads the way for staff retention, with workers staying in their job on average until the 11 month mark, followed closely by Melbourne (10 months).

On par are Perth and Sydney with 9 months of service. Brisbane falls behind the pack with only 8 months of loyalty.


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