U.S. employers face retention melt-down

2005

U.S. organisations have been warned that they face a mass exodus of staff as new research suggests that three-quarters of their employees are looking for employment opportunities elsewhere.

The startling figure emerged from the 2005 U.S. Job Recovery and Retention Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CareerJournal.com.

The survey also found that two-thirds of HR professionals are concerned about the rate of voluntary resignations at their organisations.

This proportion is far higher than the figure cited in recent research by staffing company Spherion, which suggested that only a third of U.S. HR managers viewed staff turnover and retention as key concerns.

The SHRM research also found that almost half of the organisations surveyed are implementing special retention processes to keep their employees and prevent what it termed "a mass exodus".

HR professionals said that competitive salary, career-development opportunities, promoting qualified employees and flexible work schedules are among the best employee-retention strategies.

But although salary increases often are perceived as the most valuable incentive for employees to stay with their current jobs, they also are among the most difficult to provide because although the economy is improving, organisations are still reluctant to increase spending.

"The loss of talent has many implications for a company, especially when the organisation's core, middle-management-level employees leave in large numbers," says CareerJournal.com's Tony Lee.

"HR professionals are challenged with creatively engaging the people in their organisations, which will be a difficult task since more than three-quarters of employees are either actively or passively engaged in a job search," he added.

While last week's Spherion research suggested a growing disconnect between employers and employees on the factors that keep workers in their current positions, the SHRM found a closer correlation between the views of employees and their HR managers.

In the survey, employees and HR professionals broadly agreed on the top reasons employees left their organisations: better compensation elsewhere (41 per cent of employees, 50 per cent of HR professionals); career opportunity elsewhere (34 per cent of employees, 51 per cent of HR professionals); and dissatisfaction with potential for career development at organisation (25 per cent of employees, 31 per cent of HR professionals).

But almost a quarter of employees claimed that simply being ready for a new experience was an important reason to begin or increase the intensity of their job search.

"Offering competitive salaries for the market is important to employees, however, compensation alone is not sufficient for a complete retention strategy," said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM.

"Career- development opportunities and work/life balance are important for today's employee, and employers must consider these types of issues in their retention practices if they want to develop successful organisations."