“If We Ever Get Out of Here…”

Should we make a break for it?

In a recent article in the Globe and Mail (“Many Canadians Feel Trapped in Their Jobs”), they reported on a survey that found that many Canadians “feel trapped in their jobs and hope to escape in the new year… 84 per cent said they plan to actively look for a new position in 2012, and only 5 per cent said they were certain they would stay in their current position. The rest said they were networking or upgrading their résumé and might jump if an opportunity came along. The survey findings reflect widespread dissatisfaction, said Right Management executive vice-president Bram Lowsky. Two other surveys found that the market for workers with computer and technical skills is growing, suggesting opportunities for career growth to people willing to retrain and flexible about where the job is located, experts say.”

But while some companies are stagnant, others are growing. One is Accenture which reported record-breaking results, with a 15 per cent increase in revenue and new bookings worldwide of $28.8-billion (U.S.). For Accenture’s Canadian employees, the year-end numbers are a pleasant reminder that they’re working for a winner, and an indicator of the good things yet to come.

“In Canada, we have a strategy that calls for double-digit growth,” says Claudia Thompson, an Ottawa-based managing director at Accenture. The company has approximately 236,000 employees serving clients in more than 120 countries. “To attain [this], we have to really focus on our human capital strategy and build skills and knowledge across the country, because our business is about people.”

With about 4,500 workers in Canada, Accenture is already among the leading employers in the country – and the company intends to expand its work force even more. It hired more than 1,000 new employees last year. Globally, the company expanded its work force by about 70,000 last year, and will likely hire the same number of people this fiscal year.

Because of this rapid growth, Accenture faces that most fundamental of human resource challenges: how to continue attracting and retaining the best and the brightest.

4 Comments on ““If We Ever Get Out of Here…””

  1. Dr Denis Bangala says:

    ” 84 per cent said they plan to actively look for a new position in 2012″ . this means there is something fundamentally wrong with canadian companies. what are potential root causes of this disastisfaction?.

    • brucem says:

      It’s hard to know what is driving these numbers without access to more of the data. For example, is the trend up, down or unchanged over the past few years? Also, it would be important to know how the survey was conducted and worded. Does “actively looking” mean the same thing to different people? In any case, it seemed to me to quite a high number but not that surprising.

      Many years ago companies moved to a more transactional employment model, one that was quicker to reduce headcount as a means of improving profits through cost reduction. Putting aside the pros and cons of headcount reduction for a moment, I actually think that people are now waking up to the reality that each of us has to think of ourselves as an economic free agent, one who has to think of work not as “employment” by a company, but as a series of assignments or projects that may or may not be for the same organization. In other words, moving from “employment” to “contracting” mindset. You might actually be “an employee” but one’s mindset needs to shift to free agency and the concept that each of us needs to think and act as an entrepreneur.

      On the other hand, those companies that treat people as costs (rather than assets) may find that they are essentially giving away the accumulated knowledge and experience of the people they let go. If we are in fact in a knowledge economy, then what companies lack on the traditional balance sheet is any kind of financial recognition of the knowledge and tacit expertise contained in the heads of people they are escorting out of the front door.

  2. Herky Cutler says:

    I think another variable that we have to consider is how we “make” young people choose their career path! As a career practitioner and ex-high school guidance counsellor, I shudder at the process, and it’s absolutely no surprise to me that there is a disconnect down the road in terms of people’s job satisfaction.

    We still push occupation-based career planning at the high school level where students choose occupations they think they would be suited for based on a career interest inventory they take, then they plan the rest of their high school courses and post secondary programs (if they go!) on those choices. Is it any wonder that 50% or so if the students that do make it to post secondary education either never finish or never work in the field that they studied?Based on that alone, I can easily see why so many Canadians are unhappy with their work.

    And another variable that I think we really need to look at are the generational differences in today’s organizations and how those differences are managed or mis-managed.

    • brucem says:

      A great point about the quality and even the advisability of career guidance especially at high school level. Interestingly, I have found that there are at least two areas that really needs more attention: first, the ability to learn and evolve based on a truly effective liberal arts education (learning how to learn, learning how to think) and second, on the other side of the spectrum, a real need for skilled applied engineers, scientists and technicians (mechanical, electrical, chemical, medical etc).

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