Australian workers satisfied but still looking to leave

Australian workers satisfied but still looking to leave

Australian workers satisfied but still looking to leave

  • 13 September 2011
  • Australia, Melbourne

Australian employees are more satisfied and engaged at work but that won’t stop them from leaving, according to new research from Mercer.

Mercer’s What’s Working survey conducted in early 2011, found four in 10 Australian workers are seriously considering leaving their employer, compared to 25% when the study was last conducted in 2003.

The survey of 1,000 working Australians, shows Australians have a higher regard for their employer and their manager and they are satisfied with the type of work they do. However, key segments of employees including older workers and Generation Y are not entirely happy, and are more likely to leave.

Over half (52%) of workers aged 25-34 report they are seriously considering leaving at the present time.

Yet, despite saying they want to leave their employer, 73% of this group is willing to go beyond the requirements of their job versus 69% overall. They are also the most engaged and positive towards their employer with 72% likely to promote their employer as a good place to work compared to 65% overall. However, they are also the least likely to be satisfied with the type of work they do.

In contrast, older workers aged 55-64 are more satisfied with the type of work they do and are less likely to leave but feel they are being overlooked for career development opportunities. Just 40% believe they have sufficient opportunity for growth and development, compared to 64% of those aged 25-34. Older workers are also least likely to be satisfied with their pay, with 49% saying they are paid fairly, compared to 66% of 25-24 year olds and 51% overall.

Just 55% of respondents are confident they will be able to achieve their long-term career objectives with their current employer.

Mercer’s Human Capital Business Leader for Australia and New Zealand, Rob Bebbington, said, the research painted a different type of Gen Y worker than typically accepted and confirms that older workers in particular remain an untapped opportunity.

“While Australian employers are getting many aspects of the employee engagement equation right, they’re not making the most of the capabilities and ambitions of many groups within their organisation, which means they are potentially losing productivity and worst case scenario, key talent, which inevitably hits the bottom line,” he said.

“Employers need to consider all aspects of the employment relationship and different stages of their employees work lifecycle. Our priorities and motivations change in life as we age and the same thinking has to be applied to the workforce.

“Younger workers rate job satisfaction as very important yet score low on satisfaction with their job and will therefore look elsewhere for opportunities despite being engaged and happy with other work areas.  So they need real growth opportunities. Whereas older workers are less likely to leave but report low levels of motivation, they need more communication and development strategies,” said Mr Bebbington.

Mercer’s What’s Working survey reveals the top five reward elements that are most important to Australian employees:


  1. Base pay: Overall, base pay is the most important element of the employee value proposition, but only 51% of Australian employees say they are satisfied with their base pay. It has to be complemented with an attractive benefits package and effective communication to ensure employees understand how their pay is structured.

  2. Type of work: Seventy-one percent say this is very important and organisations seem to be meeting the demand, with 78% indicating they are satisfied with the type of work they do. Workers aged 25-34 are least likely to be satisfied (75%) compared to 83% of employees aged 55-64.

  3. Flexible work arrangements: Australians are achieving a better work life balance with 67% saying they are able to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal lives, up from 54% in 2003. Sixty-one percent say their organisation provides them with the opportunity to work flexibly. Flexible work is more important to females (69%) than males (60%). It’s also more highly valued by younger workers (67%) than those aged 55-64 (57%).

  4. Working for a respectable organisation: Sixty-five percent of all respondents would recommend their company to others as a good place to work, up from 60% in 2003. The trend was highest for those aged 25-34, with 70% of respondents agreeing.

  5. Incentive pay: While only 39% are satisfied with their incentive pay, 71% are personally motivated by their organisation’s incentive compensation plan, up from 52% in 2003. This was one of the biggest changes since 2003, indicating that base pay alone is not enough to keep employees engaged and satisfied.


“Scratch beneath the surface and you will find there is a great deal of variation within the Australian workforce as to what drives and motivates employees. Getting inside employees’ minds is a critical first step in developing a plan that skilfully combines existing approaches with new ideas to improve engagement, performance and productivity,” said Mr Bebbington.

About Mercer

Mercer is a global leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global team of professional services companies offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and human capital. With 55,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $12 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a global leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting. Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerAU @MercerInsights