Poor staff development drives talent to head for the door

Nov 01 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

More Britons are thinking about leaving their job than in any other major European economy, new research has revealed, with poor staff development and inadequate retention strategies largely to blame.

As many as a quarter of Britons are considering changing jobs according to the study by employee research and consultancy firm ISR.

The research also found that many employees in UK companies think that their organisations are doing a poor job at motivating and retaining their most talented employees.

ISR examined data that reflects the views of 262,799 employees in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands. They then compared the results to data drawn from organisations with the strongest financial performance globally.

What emerged is that just 13 per cent of people in high performing companies are thinking about leaving their job.

Just 13 per cent of people in high performing companies are thinking about leaving their job

But British firms are significantly lagging behind this benchmark, with 24 per cent of employees holding this view. Italian (12 per cent) and German (10 per cent) employees are the least likely to be thinking about leaving their jobs.

British employees are also among the least likely to think that their firm is doing a good job of retaining talented people. In common with their French colleagues, almost half of Britons (46 per cent) are unimpressed with their firms retention efforts compared with 29 per cent of people working in the world's best performing organisations

So why are British employers putting up such a poor showing? The answer, according to ISR, is that they provide too few opportunities for personal development and are effectively driving away their best talent.

Fully a third of British employees believe that their company isn't doing a good job at developing people to their full potential and a quarter complain that they don't have an opportunity for personal development and growth in their company

These figures are some 10 percentage points behind the global high performance benchmark.

The findings are significant, ISR argue, because opportunities for personal growth have a major influence on employee motivation, engagement and willingness to contribute to an organisation's success.

What's more, an indifferent and disengaged workforce can have a very real negative impact on financial results.

Comparing the financial performance of organisations with a highly engaged workforce to their peers with a less engaged workforce, over a 12 month period revealed startling differences.

The operating income of companies with high levels of employee engagement improved on average by 19 per cent over 12 months, while in companies with low levels of engagement it declined by 33 per cent.

Over the same period, the group of companies with highly engaged employees saw a 14 per cent improvement in their Net Income growth rate, and those with less engaged employees saw a 4 per cent decline.

"Against a background where the traditional idea of career progression is increasingly obsolete, talented employees pay far greater attention to whether their employer encourages them to acquire new skills and develop their capabilities," said Nick Tatchell, Senior Project Director at ISR.

Our research suggests that a workplace culture in which people can maximise their potential is still largely absent. Without it, there is high risk that people will either put minimum levels of effort into their job, or look for opportunities elsewhere. Both of these can have a serious impact on an organisation's financial performance."