EY Job Study 2016 – issue in focus: “Careers and the willingness to switch jobs”

Difficult move up the career ladder: more than half of employees see no career opportunities in their own company

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Employers not offering enough opportunities for advancement – especially for women / Swiss employees highly loyal – fewer than one in five are looking for a new job / high perceived job security in “pharmaceuticals, biotech and life sciences” – lowest perceived security in the real estate sector / employees between the ages of 21 and 30 are the most likely to consider switching employers

Zurich, 10 May 2016 – More than half of employees feel that they have moved as far up the career ladder as they can in their own company: 53% say that they do not see any opportunities for promotion. And yet, 40% would like to move up to a higher rung on the career ladder. Women in particular often find it difficult to achieve upward mobility, with just 44% – as opposed to 48% of men – stating that they see promotion opportunities.

In spite of limited prospects, employees are highly loyal toward their employers: four out of five employees (81%) say that they identify – some even very strongly – with their employer. Only 4% do not identify with their employer at all.

However, there are times when their loyalty is put to the test, especially when there is the prospect of more money from a potential new employer. This could motivate 36% of employees to switch employers. Twenty-seven percent of employees would consider changing their employer for more interesting work, while 23% would think about switching for better career opportunities. Higher job security could be a motivation for 20% of staff, while a better corporate culture might encourage 13% to earn their money elsewhere in future.

Nonetheless, Swiss employees’ main concern is security. Fewer than one in five (18%) are currently looking for a new employer. Fewer than one in six (15%) see themselves working for a different company in five years’ time. Contrary to frequent negative reports, there remains little pressure to switch employers at present: overall, almost nine in every ten employees (88%) consider their jobs to be secure, while 42% believe they are very secure. Just 12% think that their jobs are at risk.

These are the results of the “Job Study 2016” conducted by the assurance and advisory organization EY, which surveyed more than 1,000 employees in Switzerland in February.

“The employment situation and the economy in Switzerland are not resulting in more people switching jobs. However, employees do think that job security is important and are avoiding the risk of switching employers, though this attitude obviously also entails an element of wait-and-see,” comments Barbara Aeschlimann, Head of HR at EY Switzerland. She adds that there are two sides to the loyalty employees feel: as far as employers are concerned, she says that this is certainly a good sign and a valuable asset. Aeschlimann explains that those who identify with their company are more motivated when they go to work than someone who does not feel any connection with their employer, adding that this enables organizations to make reliable plans. “Nevertheless, greater momentum on the labor market could also lead to new opportunities for Switzerland as a business location,” argues Aeschlimann. “A dynamic economy requires a mobile labor market alongside employees who are keen to move up the career ladder and open to change, but it also needs companies that offer staff adequate opportunities for advancement. This also entails a need for society as a whole to show greater acceptance of – and place a higher value on – careers, upward mobility and the attendant ‘competition’.”

Men and women more or less equally loyal
On average, men and women are more or less equally loyal to their companies: 27% of women identify very strongly with their employer, with 26% of men saying the same thing. The number of those looking for a job is correspondingly similar for men and women: 19% of female employees – and 18% of their male counterparts – are looking for a new employer.

For men, the wish – and the opportunity – to climb the career ladder is significantly more widespread than for women. For example, not only do considerably more men than women see promotion opportunities for themselves, amongst those who do not see any possibilities for advancement in their companies, the proportion of those who would like such opportunities is also higher amongst men (43%) than women (38%).

“Although many organizations are working hard to enable more women to climb the career ladder, there remains a lot of work to do as women still don't have the same career opportunities as men,” comments Aeschlimann. “The objective remains to provide sustained encouragement to young female staff and to clearly illustrate the opportunities open to them. There are many aspects to this, including the development of an open corporate culture in which diversity is promoted and seen as an opportunity.”

Associations offer the best promotion options
In the opinion of the survey respondents, associations offer the best opportunities for advancement: almost half of those employed by associations (49%) believe they have a chance of being promoted. This proportion is lower in the private and public sectors, at 46% in each case. Conversely, at 25% the level of identification with employers is lower in associations than in the private sector (30%), while it is lowest in the public sector, at 22%. Nonetheless, this is not enough of a reason for many employees to look elsewhere. In the public sector (20%), associations (15%) and the private sector (18%) alike, few staff are looking for a new employer.

High level of identification with employers in telecommunications and IT
The level of identification with employers is highest in the telecommunications and IT sector. Almost half of employees (47%) feel that they identify very closely with their employer. This sector is followed by staff in construction (44%) and business services (41%). One reason for this could be that there is a very strong sense of security in the telecommunications industry: 53% believe that their job is very secure. This perceived job security is higher only in pharmaceuticals, biotech and life sciences, at 68%. Consequently, only 13% of staff in the telecommunications and IT sector are looking for a new employer.

In contrast, the consumer goods industry has the lowest proportion of those who “identify very closely” with their employer: only 12% of employees express this view. The insurance sector has the highest share of employees who are looking for a new employer: almost one in three (32%) are having a look around on the job market.

The consumer goods industry also performs very poorly in relation to perceived job security. Only one in four employees (24%) consider their job to be very secure. At 18%, the corresponding proportion is even lower in the real estate sector. Across all sectors, an average of 42% of employees believe that their job is very secure.

“Employees are not immune to the intense competition and the high level of price pressure in the Swiss consumer goods industry. Against this backdrop, companies that wish to retain good staff will have to talk to their employees and show them clear prospects for the future,” advises Aeschlimann.


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The EY organization is represented in Switzerland by Ernst & Young AG, Basel, at ten locations, as well as by Ernst & Young AG, Vaduz, in Liechtenstein. In this publication, «EY» and «we» refer to Ernst & Young Ltd, Basel, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.