As we step into the New Year, here is mixed news: There is a lot more optimism in the air, as U.S. GDP per capita, at $50,675, surpasses its $49,455 level of 2007. Of course, this silver lining may have a cloud hidden within. A recent survey shows that North American employers must be prepared to deal with attrition as 86% of employees plan to actively pursue new job opportunities in 2015. An additional 8% are networking with a view to opportunistic job changes. Only 5% have no plans to make any changes. With the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) estimating that 4.7 million jobs remain unfilled for lack of qualified candidates, this heralds a season of wage revisions and increased competition for employees. Workers, for the first time in years, will be calling the shots, basing their decisions on an employer’s brand image and the employee satisfaction they offer.
Career mobility has never seemed so enticing, so it is necessary for employers to have a ’Plan B’ in place to meet their performance goals should their top talent decide to walk away. Employers need to review their employee engagement plans and renew their efforts to retain the talent that is crucial to their business strategy. They should also consider building talent pipelines which provide them with the necessary support, if and when required.
During the recession, many companies were forced to reduce the size of their workforce, freeze wages, implement furloughs, and take other cost cutting measures. While these actions alone did not necessarily damage the company’s brand, the approach used to take these actions may have. The internet is filled with worker assessments of their employers, and a simple search will reveal their views on the best and worst companies to work force. It is time managers looked at ways to keep workers engaged:
One of the most important things an employer can do to keep employees engaged is to be consistent. Set performance standards, communicate how those standards will be measured, and universally apply those metrics. Recognize that you are probably better off when some poor performing employees, regardless of their reasons for non-performance, leave the organization. Enact an effective performance assessment and coaching process that gives workers an opportunity to improve, but makes clear that the consequence of not improving is termination. In these circumstances, plan for the worst and hope for the best. In other words, be prepared for knowledge transfer to avoid disruptions that can directly affect the bottom line.
Finally, when experiencing a rise in attrition rates, find out why. Assign an independent individual to conduct exit interviews, structure them in a way that encourages frank discussion, and ensure that what is learned is communicated to the highest levels of the organization. If patterns emerge, be prepared to institutionalize changes that will establish your company as a desired place to work.
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