Wake Up Call: Managers Stand to Lose Key Talent in 2011

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The results of a recent survey by Right Management, a division of Manpower, Inc., may be a depressingly foreshadowing to U.S. employers.  According to the poll, 84% of employees that participated in the survey plan to actively pursue other employment options in 2011.  This is a significant increase from the 2010 statistic of 60%.  Only 5% stated their intent was to remain in their current positions.  This is staggering!

The desire for change is credited to employee dissatisfaction and discontent.  President and Chief Operating Officer for Right Management, Douglas J. Matthews, stated, “We view it as a barometer of their trust in management or commitment to the job. It’s a workplace equivalent to opinion polling on whether or not ‘this country is moving in the right direction.’ Just as people are questioning their elected leaders in government, so too are workers wondering if their management is up to the challenge of renewed growth or developing a sound strategy moving forward…Employees’ trust has been seriously shaken and there is a general lack of confidence in leaders.”

A 2007 newsletter on workforce issues published by Hay Group Insight, a global management consulting firm, detailed out different drivers of employee engagement.  Among them: Confidence in Leaders.  “If faith in the direction of the organization is critical for fostering high levels of employee engagement, so too is ensuring that employees have confidence that there are strong hands on the wheel at senior levels that are capable of executing on strategic objectives.  Today’s employees recognize that their prospects for continued employment, career development, and advancement are dependent on their companies’ health and stability.  They cannot be expected to bind their futures to those of their employers unless they are confident that their companies are well managed and well positioned for success.”

If confidence in the leaders of an organization is key to employee retention and an overwhelming percentage of employees in today’s workforce have had this confidence shaken, if not completely removed, how to employers defend themselves against a potential mass exodus of key talent?  Right Management’s Matthews suggests identifying high performers and making career discussions open and constructive.  “High-value employees always have opportunities available to them. Know who they are and be sure to take care of them in ways that are meaningful and aligned with the businesses goals.”

The lines of communication should be open to every employee, ensuring each individual feels they are working for a company that cares about them and about what they think or have to say.  Far too often today’s organizations are sending out the message that employee’s should feel lucky to have a job, let alone job satisfaction.  It is this mentality that will have those companies with a few less critical employees over the course of the year.  Businesses that continue to operate with the happiness of their staff in mind may sail through 2011 unscathed.

Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration.  When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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