It appears that employee restlessness is again on the rise. Earlier this year I wrote about two million US employees giving their employers the pink slip in February, 2012. According to new data from Hay Group, more employees are planning to quit. This is in keeping with our projections that the will to correct trust and communication problems in companies is not strong in the leadership teams of large companies.
In 2011, nearly two in every five employees (38 percent) planned to leave their employers within the next five years, compared to 30 percent in 2009. Employees are also increasingly concerned about their organizations’ ability to retain top talent (only 43 percent held favorable views in 2011, compared to 56 percent in 2009). The data, pulled from Hay Group’s global employee opinion database, include the opinions of over 1,696,000 U.S. employees working in 152 organizations. This is a credible test pool and gives us more insight on why employees would consider quitting even when the economy is not fully recovered.
In a conversation I had with a senior HR Executive who recently tendered his resignation, “Sometimes it comes down to mental health. Staying is more painful that dealing with the unknown.” Amen to that.
“U.S. companies have experienced lower turnover rates over the past few years, largely because of the weak labor market associated with the economic downturn. We’re in the eye of a turnover hurricane that has lulled many companies into complacency,” said Mark Royal, senior principal at Hay Group Insight. “In the meantime, employee frustration is rising. Organizations that fail to identify and act on issues affecting employee commitment during this break in the storm are going to find employees exiting in increasing numbers as other opportunities become more plentiful.”
The employee engagement picture remains mixed at many organizations. While commitment to the company has flagged, employees’ willingness to invest discretionary effort held fairly stable from 2009 to 2011, along with their feelings about their job security and career advancement opportunities. However, issues related to employee enablement – involving providing employees with the necessary support and resources to do their jobs successfully – took a downward turn:
- Organizational effectiveness: 58 percent of employees said their employers organized work effectively, compared to 63 percent in 2009.
- Inefficient operating: 57 percent of employees said their employers operated efficiently, compared to 64 percent in 2009.
“The key to retention is enablement,” said Royal. “Over time, engaged employees who are struggling to get things done may either stop trying – or vote with their feet and leave. Unfortunately for organizational leaders, high performing and high potential employees who can find alternative opportunities even in tough labor markets are particularly likely to be turnover risks in the face of workplace frustration.”
Employees’ Confidence in Organizations Drops. An increasing number of employees are worried that their organizations are keeping focus on long-term goals in addition to short-term results. Only 65 percent of employees felt confident that their employers had a long-term orientation in 2011, a significant drop from 76 percent in 2009. Employee confidence in their companies having a clear sense of direction also dropped 9 percentage points from 2009 levels.
Pay Concerns Increase. Although organizations are asking employees “to do more with less,” their ability to reward extra effort has been constrained during difficult economic times. Concerns about equity in pay relative to other companies grew by 8 percentage points from 2009 to 2011. What’s more, only 44 percent of employees said their company was doing a good job in matching pay to performance in 2011, compared to 48 percent in 2009.
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