The People Pro

Training, Tips and Tools to Build Your Business and Balance Your Life!

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Location: Small town, Northern Wisconsin

Barbara is an author, speaker and psychotherapist in private practice. She provides keynote presentations and is a Certified Professional Speaker, a designation held by fewer than 8% of the speakers in the world. She has appeared on FOX, CNN, and CBS and is considered an expert in relationships.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

New Survey Shows That Few Organizations Understand Employee Retention

As the boomers plan retirement and there is a projected worker shortage, a new comprehensive study by Spherion Corporation indicates that many employers aren’t taking the steps necessary to retain existing employees or attract top talent from a shrinking worker pool.

Spherion’s 2005 Emerging Workforce Study surveyed a nationally representative sample of U.S. companies and employees and found a serious disconnect between employers and workers on important workplace issues. They differ on the critical issues affecting retention, such as training and development and work/life balance. The study found that less than one in five employers is positioned for the future to recruit and retain top talent.

According to the Emerging Workforce Study:

  • Only 34% of HR managers mention turnover/retention as a key HR concern.
  • 60% of workers rate time and flexibility as a key factor in retention, but only thirty-five percent of employers feel the same.
  • Only 49% of employers rate money as an important issue in retention but 69% of workers believe it is.
  • Nearly 40% of U.S. employees intend to find a new job in the next 12 months, but employers expect only 14% of their workforce to leave in the next year.

One of the biggest gaps between employers and employees is the importance workers place on the balance between their professional and personal lives. In a previous study in 2003, 96% of employees agreed that an employer was more attractive when it helped them meet family responsibilities through flextime, work at home options, telecommuting and job sharing. Yet only 24% of employers offer a formal flex-time program, only 12% offer telecommuting and 11% offer job sharing.

The results are of concern as the new emerging workforce is very different than the traditional workforce that many employers have had for many years. There is a new breed of American worker who is confident, self-reliant and has a different set of workplace values and expectations about work and life. They are much more focused on the importance of balance and family time. This growing group currently represents about 31% of workers today and is expected to be the majority of employees by 2007. Many experts are predicting that the more traditionally minded workers will dwindle to near extinction in the next few years.

Yet, the Spherion Workforce study found that only 19% of employers have the progressive mindset, HR approaches and policies to attract and retain top talent for the future. The traditional employers, representing 33% of all employers, have dated views on retention and focus little on the issues of time, flexibility or opportunities for growth.

The employers who are best positioned for the future:

  • Offer work/life balance programs, training and educational opportunities and other options to retain employees.
  • Frequently survey employees to identify specific retention issues that need to be addressed.
  • Hire the right mix of full-time, part-time and contingent resources that assist in building appropriate staffing levels during business fluctuations.
  • Utilize HR practices that emphasize individual employee growth and offer flexibility in the workplace.

To build customer loyalty, you must have loyal employees. Employee loyalty is built when it is clear that the employer is concerned about employees both professionally and personally. Workers are encouraged to find the employment options that help them balance their responsibilities at work and at home. They are mentored by management to achieve their potential and maximize their talents. They are urged to participate in training and education that will advance their career and build their life.

Frequently I am asked by employers, “But what if I train an employee and then he leaves?” To which I answer, “What if you don’t, and he stays?”

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