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Australian employees working harder for, and remaining at, current employers, Gartner reveals

Employees are sticking with their current jobs – and working harder – even as Australia’s economy continues a record expansion, says CEB, now Gartner.

New data from the CEB Global Talent Monitor shows that in Q3 2017, almost 20% of employees reported a high willingness to go above and beyond at work, which is 3.5% higher than the global average. Likewise, 41.6% of employees are highly committed to staying in their current job, which is 5% higher than the global average. 

While this may seem like good news for employers, many organisations in Australia are undergoing restructuring and/or changes in leadership. In fact, Australian employees are nearly 15% more likely to have experienced changes in senior leadership and 8% more likely to have been part of an organisational restructure in the past 12 months, more than any other country in the world. This, combined with low wage growth, has created the perfect storm for an increase in employee misconduct.

According to CEB data, high-change work environments, where employees experience multiple career moments during one year, such as changes in leadership, M&As or pay freezes, can have up to three times the amount of misconduct versus those in stable work environments.

Aaron McEwan, HR advisory leader at CEB, now Gartner, said, “Certain career moments are more likely to lead to higher rates of employee misconduct than others. While changes in senior leadership and organisational restructuring are among the top forms of disruption, layoffs, wage freezes and a change in direct management can all impact employee behaviour.”

On top of this, flat salaries are pushing employees to a tipping point. Despite reaching a six-year high in Q2 2017, employee expectations of pay dropped by just over 1% in Q3, showing optimism over pay was short-lived.

McEwan commented, “The findings are quite clear – workplace disruption has left employees disengaged and apathetic to the impact their behaviour could have on the organisation. Their attitude is that if leadership is unstable or their team keeps changing, who’s going to notice or even care if they do something they shouldn’t.

“All it takes is for one person to get away with something once, and it snowballs from there. We see misconduct ranging from chucking a sickie to watch the Ashes to more serious behaviour such as theft, harassment or ethical breaches.” 

McEwan warns that if not managed appropriately, career moments are a disaster waiting to happen. They can impact the bottom-line and organisation’s reputation, but are also detrimental to employee engagement and productivity.

By understanding which moments present the most risk to the organisation and how to navigate them, employers can curb misconduct by planning, preparing and supporting employees through times of disruption. CEB, now Gartner, recommends that organisations:

  • Understand, prioritise and address high risk career moments: Leadership teams should create their own list of key career moments that are likely to happen and the impact they pose to the workforce. This awareness will allow organisations to proactively mitigate the misconduct risks associated with those corporate changes.

  • Communicate change effectively: Environments where employees hear about corporate change after the fact are 18% more likely to experience employee misconduct than environments where employees hear about an upcoming career moment before it happens. Open communication that considers the timing, focus and source is critical to managing these moments.

  • Prepare managers to navigate change: Managers are critical as their proximity to employees allow them to not only deliver messages, but also assist employees in working through change. Clarify what is expected of managers and give them the training and tools they need to reinforce ethical behaviour during career moments.

McEwan concluded, “By stabilising the rate of change within the work environment and reducing emotional hotspots that can lead to poor decision making, leaders can dramatically reduce the risk of employee misconduct.”

Global Talent Monitor data is drawn from the larger CEB Global Labour Market Survey which is made up of more than 22,000 employees in 40 countries. The survey is conducted quarterly and is reflective of market conditions during the quarter preceding publication. Visit to learn more and compare talent data from around the world.

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