By Darren Patterson, Associate Director, People & Change Consulting at Grant Thornton 

Time to move on? A thought that probably occupies the minds of over 25 per cent of your current employees, according to recent industry surveys.

Why are so many employees currently thinking about changing employer? – And in the context of Brexit, at a time of such economic uncertainty?

While some turnover in staff can be regarded as healthy, high attrition rates can have a severe impact, particularly if those leaving are key contributors or emerging talent.

While many employees will often claim that another role will offer greater rewards, it is worth analysing all the factors that lead to an employee choosing to leave. It is likely that many of these reasons will not be financial.

It is well known that people move roles for a variety of reasons, but the search for new experiences and challenges is often foremost among them, especially so for those who are driven, innovative and prepared to challenge the status-quo. The sort of person that an employer cannot afford to lose.

If a lack of opportunity is the reason being cited by leavers during your company’s exit interview process, then you need to take action to address this.

Darren Patterson

Forward thinking organisations are proactive in this space, identifying and regularly reviewing their existing and emerging talent. Such organisations create an environment in which effective and open dialogue regularly takes place around development and career management between line managers and team members.

However, all too often in many organisations, short-term operational pressures take priority and such conversations do not happen.

As a result, individuals are left to draw their own conclusions – often incorrectly – regarding their value to their current employer as well as their likelihood of playing a greater role in the future.

Helping employees to understand they have a career path rather than just a job can reduce the instances of those looking to leave.

Giving individuals the tools and techniques to manage their careers is exactly where organisations need to start.

In an increasingly competitive workplace, all of us will need to know how to navigate not only the external job-market, but also the internal organisation structure.

Armed with an understanding of how to manage a career, individuals are better equipped to seek out and exploit opportunities (short-term secondments, lateral moves to improve specific competencies, project work and so on) of which they may previously have been unaware.

Accordingly, the employee’s overall employability increases and the knowledge and understanding of that individual is, crucially, retained within the business.

Complementing this type of work-based learning are a host of other activities that ensure employees feel valued and empowered as their careers unfold.

This includes ongoing assessment activities designed to support individual development, measuring and tracking people engagement levels, and coaching line managers in having ongoing career conversations.

In addition, ensuring functional specialists moving into management roles are equipped with appropriate managerial skills and providing individuals with the tools to learn about management of their own career paths can have a significant influence on the future career choices of your top performers.

All of these interventions, as well as many others, can play a fundamental role in ensuring that when the possibility of moving on arises, the key talent within your organisation take the decision to stay, satisfied in the knowledge that they can fulfil their career aspirations and ambitions within your organisation.

For further information or advice, Darren Patterson can be contacted at

Grant Thornton (NI) LLP specialises in audit, tax and advisory services.