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Which employees think they can be easily replaced?

June 2017

June 18, 2017 | 10:00 | Dubai

In its latest study, salary benchmarking site, Emolument.com asked 1,800 employees if they thought their employers could easily replace them. Results show that young employees think they could be easily replaced, as well as those working in non-strategic support functions. Results also show a worrying gender disparity, with female employees feeling much more disposable than their male colleagues.

  • Unsupported support? 70% of employees working in support functions (executive assistants, clerks…) think they could easily be replaced. Even though they are key to the smooth day-to-day running of a business, working for a cost centre, away from revenue generating functions does not give them the sense that they are important to their employer. As a matter of fact, those are jobs with a high turnover.
  • Transferable skills are a double edged sword: HR professionals can easily transfer their skills and networks to a competitor, which means their job market is relatively fluid, but also that employers are rarely concerned about finding a replacement (63% of HR employees think they could easily be replaced).
  • Replacing me? Good luck with that! Part of the healthcare crisis in the UK is due to the limited talent pool available to hospitals and surgeries1. Long years of study and a high level of technical skills are required in this sector which leads only 29% of them to think their employer could easily replace them.
  • High replacement cost: Law, as the healthcare sector, requires strong technical skills which link professionals to specific clients or sectors, making them challenging to replace. For an employer to lose their legal professionals’ knowledge and expertise will be costly as it will take time to train a replacement. As a result only 36% of them think they could easily be replaced.
  • Young and disposable: As expected, entry-level employees feel they can be replaced more easily than their older colleagues: without a network and little in the way of technical skills, graduates compete for entry-level positions and are also victim of the ‘last one in, first one out’ policies when businesses are under pressure.
  • Harder and harder to replace, until… With increasing experience, employees feel more secure (up to 50% of employees with 10-15 years of experience think they could not be easily replaced). However, 15 years + into their career, professionals start fearing becoming too expensive and obsolete, with those thinking they can be easily replaced increasing to 55% of our sample.
  • Different perceptions? Women are more likely to believe they can be easily replaced compared to men (59% against 50%). Studies have shown that women exhibit a clear disparity in confidence when compared to men, a phenomenon which is known as the ‘confidence gap’2, reflected in these figures.
  • … Or a sad reality? On average, women earn less than their male counterparts and are often confined to lower-level managerial positions, which does indeed make them more easily replaceable.

Alice Leguay, Co-Founder and COO at Emolument.com said: ‘With so many employees feeling disposable, employers are faced with the vast challenge of making their staff feel valued. Forecasts point to the self-employment rates rising to 40% of the workforce by 2020, double its current levels, which puts retention at the forefront of many HR departments’ strategy. Tools such as training programmes, charitable activities, attractive working spaces, and more flexible reporting structures are popular, but time will be needed for employees to regain their self-worth.’

1- https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/doctors-under-unrelenting-pressure-due-to-lack-of-consultants-9673p003r
2- https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-confidence-gap/359815/

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