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Raise Your Hand If You Are Looking for a Job!

This just in: Employees are ready to check out the moment a better offer comes along, according to MetLife's 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends, one of the big, well-known and highly regarded benchmark surveys. So what's an employee benefit survey have to do with employee retention? Apparently plenty. MetLife chose to begin the executive summary of their benefits survey with the following statement:

"The 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends delivers a clear message to employers: Reprioritize employee loyalty and satisfaction, or economic recovery may arrive with unanticipated setbacks for retention and productivity."

Even MetLife can't ignore the issue of employee retention and the disconnect between employee and employer. Go directly to the executive summary and you'll see a workforce that has grown more dissatisfied and disloyal, to the point where one in three employees hopes to be working elsewhere in the next 12 months. Yet ask employers if this is of concern and most will switch the topic to the rising cost of fuel. Why? Because it's easier to discuss world events than it is to discuss what's going on in your own backyard.

Organizations continue to focus on the challenging economic climate and assume their people will remain with them because they are happy to have a job. In some cases, that may be. However, don't confuse "happy to have a job" with "happy to be in one's job". How can you fuel your company's growth if you are using this energy to replace exiting talent? You won't have to answer this hypothetical question if you begin to address the issue of employee retention now, before there is no one left to worry about.

Take Action Now

Stop using delay tactics like climate surveys if you already have a sense of what the temperature is in your organization. You can feel this when you walk into a room. Do you and your clients feel warm and welcome or is there a chill in the room? Chances are you have a good idea what needs to change. That's why I suggest making changes as soon as you are aware there are problems, rather than waiting for the complete forecast.

It's no secret that employees leave their bosses. Note any patterns that indicate you may have a boss who needs to be sidelined. Gather feedback from your people and your customers to confirm your suspicions. Then execute your plan.

Yes, it's shocking to some that one in three employees are looking to exit their current employers. But on the other hand, if you take the time now to create an exceptional workplace that attracts key talent, you may indeed be the winner here as you pick up talent that just a few year's ago may not have been within reach.

© 2011 Human Resource Solutions. All Rights Reserved.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the new book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey). Visit Roberta's Blog or her Linked-in Group Suddenly in Charge! Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.

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  • Ann Latham

    Most employees stay unless given a good reason to leave. Few leave to chase a raise. Employees stay when:
    - they are treated fairly and with respect (compensation is only a part of this)
    - they are given responsibilities suited to their talents, skills, interests, and ambition
    - they are given a reasonable chance of succeeding, which includes things like clear expectations, support, training, and a reasonable workload
    - they are working in a reasonably pleasant environment

    The recession has changed many companies and given people new reasons to leave. Here are a few examples:
    - Lay-offs and shifts in responsibilities are often handled badly jeopardizing that sense of fair play and respect.
    - If handled very badly, employees worry about losing their jobs and start looking for alternatives to protect themselves.
    - People covering for those laid off are often given tasks less appealing so suddenly they like what they are doing far less than before. Coming to work goes from being pleasant to being a drag.
    - Excessive workloads diminish the ability to feel successful.
    - The struggle by management to adapt leads to stupid actions that damage respect, trust, morale, and general optimism.
    - Friends are laid off.
    - Stress abounds.

    Unless your business has been immune to the recession, don't assume your employees are happy and eager to stay.

    I wrote about this same topic today in my blog at

  • Roberta Matuson

    I love your quote from Charles Purdy of Monster. I agree that all too often people are chasing the next increase. But in all fairness to these people, many haven't had raises in several years. They are constantly being asked to do more with less. Eventually, something has to give.

    It's time for companies to take a closer look at who they really want to keep and begin looking at ways to fully engage these people, so they don't run out the door the moment the economy is in full recovery.

  • Ken Sundheim

    For the manager, text-book leadership would say to begin with differentiation. If you feel that some employees are going to go, some employees are in the maybe column and there are some employees that you can't live without, it's okay to fire the ones that are going to leave and take some of the budget to transfer over some company options to the most important 1/3.

    Then, the good leader would follow Jack Welch theory and work with the middle-half in a very hands-on manner. Not only will this allow him to see who is and who is not jumping ship, but it is also a great time to scout the potential talent in the group and begin to progress their career which will mitigate some turnover fears in that area.

    For the employees, the ones that leave for that extra $5,000 or $10,000 are on a spiral down a bad career path.

    This was in response to an interview I did with Charles Purdy of a few months back:

    "When someone takes a new position for the extra few thousand, they feel fresh and excited," he says. "But that new energy lasts only for so long. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. When candidates take jobs for a small salary increase, they burn out--often, they become so burnt out that they then welcome hearing about opportunities that pay less, because they need to pursue their interests."