Economy No Deterrent; You Need a Retention Plan



 By John Riley

 After months of a wrenching economy, the generally accepted philosophy is that employees have hunkered down and  put any notions of changing jobs on the back burner, at least until economic conditions improve. A study by Salary.Com, a payroll and compensation consulting firm, earlier this year reveals exactly the opposite is true.

 The study reports 80% of employers believe it will be a few months before employees start a job search, however 65% of the employees have already started searching passively or actively and say they will be intensifying their efforts.  Over 7,000 employees and 363 human relations professionals were covered by the survey.

 According to Nicholas Camelio, senior vice president,, “Employers were out of touch with their employee’s satisfaction levels and were over estimating the tough economic environment as a deterrent to job seeking. Consequently, many employers have not placed enough emphasis on important retention strategies. This could lead to their best employees defecting during the next year, just when this talent will be most needed to help turn  businesses around.”

 When employees were asked about various industries, financial services, construction and retail were at the top of the list of extremely dissatisfied employees.  The Internet, education/government, non-profit and software and networking came out on top with extremely satisfied employees.

 In another study, this one by Career Systems International  in 2005, over 7,400 employees from diverse industries were asked about things available in organizations that engendered commitment and a willingness to stay.  The most influential factors:

1)      exciting work/challenge(48.4%)                                       

2)      career growth/learning (42.6%)

3)       relationships/working with great people (41.8%)

4)       fair pay (31.8).


With the economic and employment uncertainty, it is no longer easy to plan a career path. As a result, employees, especially the top performers, may rely on mobility as the solution to increased compensation and a better title. Recognizing the situation, many employers are starting to focus on professional growth and skill development as retention tools.

 However, that may not be enough and policies may be incorrectly implemented.  For example, an employer may interpret the employees’ desire for exciting work/challenge as an opportunity for management to reassign a laid off worker’s responsibilities to the employee. For management, it is a logical step in several to help the business survive.

 Then the employee learns that the work isn’t sufficiently different from what he is already doing and neither his compensation nor his title will be changed. So rather than motivate the employee, the transfer of responsibilities becomes a millstone.

 Employee retention is the most critical element in the future success of the business and a strategy to survive should not conflict with a strategy to retain the company’s most important asset. It’s not too soon to revisit your strategies for the future and make sure employee retention is not only on your list, but at the top.

Explore posts in the same categories: Jobs, Management, Workforce

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