Traditional job-hunting techniques have changed considerably in recent years. The online platform LinkedIn has become indispensable, especially for young job-seekers. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
An increasing number of employees in Switzerland are seeking to change jobs. Like other countries, Switzerland faces an unprecedented labour shortage, and employees - especially the youngest - are taking advantage of their strong position. This content was published on March 26, 2023 March 26, 2023 minutes more from this author
generation job-hopper Italiano
perché in svizzera si è meno fedeli all'azienda per cui si lavora Français
pourquoi les suisses sont moins fidèles à leur employeur (original) Pусский
почему молодые швейцарцы постоянно меняют работу?
Élodie*, a human resources specialist from Neuchâtel, is in her thirties. In the first seven years of her career, she changed employers four times. But this was not because she is restless – for the past six years, Élodie has been blossoming at the large Swiss IT company that hired her in 2017.
“I have real opportunities for professional development here, and the attention paid to individuals is central," she says.“I am now already in a more senior position than when I arrived. The training on offer and the company culture are also completely up-to-the-minute.”
The reasons Élodie moved from one job to the next were always the same: management problems.“In my second job, the management talked the talk, but they were not putting it into practice at all," she says.“The bosses didn't respect the employees. In my next job, the managers were old-school. They weren't interested in my skills and the potential I offered the company. I was restricted to administrative tasks.”
Élodie's story illustrates a very real trend in the job market. According to a pwc surveyexternal link conducted in May 2022, 20% of employees in Switzerland planned to look for a new job the following year. The Federal Statistical Office reports that between 2016 and 2021, job mobilityexternal link in Switzerland has increased, especially among Generation Z workers – those born between 1990 and 2010. In total, 12.4% of employees switched jobs in 2021, compared with 12% in 2016.
+ demographic shifts cause swiss labour market crunchexternal link
Younger members of the work force are more prone to changing jobs. One in five people aged 15 to 24 (21.6%) and 25 to 39 (17.7%) took on a new position in 2021. The corresponding share was only around 5% among 55- to 64-year-olds. This is a trend that can be found in other european countriesexternal link , although there are no comparable international statistics.Attracting instead of selecting
The desire for professional mobility is linked to the full employment of recent years and a low unemployment rate. According to a Manpower study published in January 2023, there are currently more than 100,000 job vacancies in Switzerland. This unprecedented labour shortage is changing the balance of power between companies and employees.
The task for recruiters is no longer to select, but to attract people who have never had an easier time finding a new job, especially young people. Hiring a new employee is a challenge, and not only in the sectors where demand is highest, such as information technology and health.
Collège Champittet in the canton of Vaud, a private school which employs nearly 250 people, currently has about 20 openings.“For the recruitment of teachers, early childhood educators and IT workers, the market was already tight five years ago,” says Agnès Gabirout, head of human resources.“Our challenge is to recruit teachers who are competent in their field and can work in French, English, and potentially, a third language.”
Studies consistently show that the hope of a better salary is the main reason for changing jobs. Matthias Mölleney, the director of the Center for Human Resources Management & Leadership at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (HWZ), explores the trend in a recent article published by neue zürcher zeitungexternal link . A drastic change could be observed already in the late 2010s, he notes. The nature of hierarchies has become enormously important in determining employee satisfaction. The appreciation shown to employees for their efforts has become a primary concern.
However, the mobility of young employees is not necessarily fuelled by dissatisfaction. Hunger for new experiences is also a factor. "When you finish your training, you're curious and you want to try out different types of jobs," says Manuella*, a 31-year-old mechanical engineer in the canton of Vaud. She is already on her third employer. "After graduating, my fellow students all went on to three or four jobs, where they stayed for about two years,” she says.Cover letters are out
The way of recruiting has changed accordingly. It is no longer enough to simply place an advert on recruitment websites. "For my current position, I was found on the LinkedIn internet network by a professional acquaintance from a previous job,” says Manuella, whose qualifications are in high demand.“The manager contacted me and persuaded me to change jobs again."
Anthony Caffon, director of the Michael Page recruitment agency in Geneva, says that writing a cover letter is no longer de rigueur, nor is sending a formal CV. LinkedIn, which nowadays operates as an exchange for talent, has become the basic information tool for recruiters. Users interested in a position have recently been able to send a“simplified application” at the click of a button.“A traditional two-month recruitment process with four rounds of interviews discourages 80% of applicants,” Caffon says.
Adventurous young workers are attracted to start-ups. These newly created firms have ambitions for impact and rapid growth, but also run the risk of disappearing after six months. In contrast, traditional sectors such as banking and insurance have fallen out of favour.“In the 20 to 30 age group, people need to be stimulated," says Frédéric Roger, founder of Air HR Global Solutions.“They hate organisational charts and authority, while expecting strong leadership from their direct boss, as well as the ability to make quick decisions. An agile environment, i.e., responsive, flexible and collaborative, is what suits them best."
"Young people rarely have a career vision that stretches beyond three years," Caffon says.“They have a relatively consumerist concept of work. Candidates ask themselves what a job can achieve for them, rather than what they can bring to the company." He cites studies predicting that the new generation will experience around 15 different employers during their career, compared to between five and six for current 50-somethings.
"Generation Z prioritises flexible hours and telecommuting, as well as a work-life balance. The most important thing for these employees is to be able to learn something by doing a project. They want their job to have a positive impact in today's world.”The challenge of retaining staff
Retaining employees who are constantly in demand from other companies is also difficult. In the highly competitive field of technology development, Infomaniak stands out as one of the few Swiss players able to compete with the big four – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – with a comparable range of services.
But Boris Siegenthaler, the strategic director of the Geneva-based company, tells this story: "Not long after he joined us, one of our developers was poached by a Californian firm for a job in Paris. The Americans offered him a package of shares worth CHF170,000, a salary 20% higher than ours, along with all the perks these firms are known for, such as free meals. As an SME with 200 employees, we can't compete with such conditions.”
Infomaniak relies primarily on its corporate culture to gain employees' loyalty. The company claims to be firmly committed to sustainable development, while guaranteeing that jobs are kept in Switzerland. The management aims to be as horizontal as possible.
The company has also launched a programme to put half the company's capital in employees' hands. This process turns employees into shareholders and allows them to benefit financially from the success of the business.“The most important thing for applicants is our values," Siegenthaler says.“This takes precedence over the question of salary in candidates' decisions to join us.”
*First names have been changed.
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