Australia has bucked a world trend of increasing mobility in the workplace, according to the latest Randstad Workmonitor report.
The report, a leading global indicator of jobseeker confidence and mobility found both had dropped significantly in the third quarter.
Mobility a godsend and a nightmare
The findings are a significant reversal from the previous quarter when mobility had risen to 111, its highest level since 2011.
The Randstad Mobility Index now sits at 104, leaving it at a similar level to the first quarter of the year (102).
Australia was one of the few countries to have experienced a decrease in mobility this quarter, with the majority of nations experiencing a jump, including Spain, Norway and India.
The global Mobility Index now sits at 109, its highest point in three years.
The Randstad Workmonitor surveys over 13,000 people across 32 countries each quarter.
The fall comes at a time of soft business conditions, rising business and consumer confidence, and rising unemployment levels - now at the highest level since 2009.
Steve Shepherd, Group Director of Randstad, said the drop could be reflective of uncertainty in the lead up to the federal election.
"In the weeks following the election outcome and with our new Prime Minister and Government in power, we are already witnessing an increase in sentiment and some industry sectors are experiencing a new level of buoyancy as stability returns to the market," he said.
"In saying that, Australia is still experiencing the highest unemployment rate in four years and a consistent fall in job advertisements, both print and online, which indicates cautious hiring intent." Shepherd said that while the overall trend this quarter pointed to cautiousness, the economy and labour market were expected to experience increased optimism in the fourth quarter.
"It remains to be seen whether the optimism and buoyancy experienced since the election result impacts the unemployment level and jobs creation for the next three to six months," he said.
"We are seeing a slight pick-up in permanent job orders in IT, engineering, accounting and finance and from the pharmaceutical and construction sector which is a good sign.
"Employers are still preferring to hire people on a more temporary basis and in contract roles due to the flexibility this provides to scale up or scale down depending on business conditions." But while flexibility is important for businesses from a resourcing and financial perspective, it's important to weigh up the pros and cons from a cultural perspective. Shepherd said stability and confidence was crucial to help boost employee productivity and performance.
"The very nature of temporary, casual and contract work is short-term, and transient, which many people are looking for, yet there are many who would prefer stability," he said.
"If employees are nervous, concerned and experiencing stress about their temporary role, this can have a damaging flow-on effect with other employees and teams."
(By Brian Karlovsky)