Life is supposed to be a peach for the knowledge worker. He has the pay and the perks one would die for - stock options, flexi-time et al - complete with a bevy of suitors supposedly waiting to pick him/her up at any cost.
Is that the reason why knowledge professionals are among the most frequent job hoppers? Or is the gravy train of the knowledge economy coming to a grinding halt?
Well, not yet. But life for the knowledge worker is not as 'cool' as it is supposed to be, if a recent study by research agency NFO-MBL among 'knowledge workers' is anything to go by. While just about 22 per cent of the people surveyed in the age group of 20-25 years are satisfied with their current jobs, not a single person in the 31-plus age group expressed job satisfaction.
A similar trend has been revealed for employees in terms of experience. Around 21 per cent of workers with two to five years of experience expressed complete satisfaction, while, 'zero per cent' of those with experience of nine years and above indicated satisfaction, according to the survey.
The survey covered people in jobs like software, project management, research and consultancy in over 35 leading companies in India including Hughes Software, NIIT, Aptech, Britannia, Koshika Telecom, GE Capital, ISPL, Zenith Computers, SIS Infotech and Dishnet DSL. Over 150 executives were identified who were looking for a change in job. A specially designed, semi-structured questionnaire was sent to them via e-mail. The questionnaire covered issues relating to their employment in general, the reasons for looking for a change, the various parameters considered while looking for a new option and their relative importance.
The survey revealed that as many as 70 per cent were not really keen to rejoin the company they were working for. While 27 per cent were 'definite' they would not, 43 per cent said they 'probably' would not. Only 1 per cent was absolutely certain they would opt for the current employer again.
Interestingly, the opposition to the current employer was a little less when it came recommending him to a friend. As many as 47 per cent said they would probably recommend their company to a friend. In fact, 23 per cent were quite definite they would. Only about 15 per cent said they would probably not suggest their current employer to a friend.
Overall, while 54 per cent of the employees covered said they were satisfied with their employer, only 2 per cent said they were extremely satisfied. Among the dissatisfied, 25 per cent slotted themselves as 'somewhat' dissatisfied and 3 per cent chose to call themselves very dissatisfied.
The survey has found that it is not only age and experience which have an effect on satisfaction levels, job satisfaction levels vary on a regional basis too. Knowledge workers in the north expressed the highest dissatisfaction level at 35 per cent. A majority of the respondents in the eastern part of the country displayed overall satisfaction with their jobs. In the western region, 24 per cent of the respondents were dissatisfied, while in the south 22 per cent of the respondents were dissatisfied.
Overall, knowledge workers do not seem to be pleased with their 'present condition'. Predictably, with knowledge workers being fairly well-paid, compensation was not a major factor for dissatisfaction. According to the survey, the top five reasons for attrition given by knowledge workers include career development (17 per cent of the respondents assigning this as the main reason), job content (16 per cent), compensation and benefits (15 per cent), work practices (15 per cent) and organisational culture (13 per cent).
In view of these findings, Gautam Nath, director, corporate services and human resources, NFO-MBL India, feels the following factors should be utilised by employers to retain knowledge workers: clearly defined roles (where every employee knows his goals and functions); suggestions and ideas from employees, Kaizen (where employees are rewarded on giving good ideas even if these are not implemented); effective downward and upward communication (for an efficient feedback system in the organisation); value-driven organisation; bonding and cohesion (knowledge workers want to be identified with the organisation); productivity linked rewards and training and development.
A word of caution for job hoppers. Ronesh Puri, head, Executive Access (one of the largest executive search firms in South Asia), says, "We do not consider the resumes of frequent job hoppers seriously as it shows their poor decision-making capability, stability and seriousness. Also people should not limit themselves to just one kind of experience. At one stage, to learn new technologies and experience, movement is a healthy step."
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