If you’ve been reviewing employee engagement surveys over the past few years, you would be hard-pressed to find good news for today’s employers. Most surveys point to a bleak future in which current employees jump ship as quickly as they can, citing lack of career growth and pay and benefits as the biggest factors in their decision to seek new employment.
On the other hand, there’s Randstad’s most recent Employee Attachment Index report, which finds that employee attachment actually rose by five points between March and June of this year. Released in September 2011, the report goes on to say that most employees said they plan to stay on the job. In addition, three-quarters of respondents expressed that “they are inspired, proud of their work and enjoy going to work every day.”
So, which is it – happy or headed out the door? Well, if you look a bit more closely at the results, the situation is hardly cut and dry. On the one hand, employees are less likely to report plans to look for, seriously consider or accept a job offer in the next six months than they were last spring. Yet, this doesn’t mean that employers are in the clear. What’s most worrisome is that “29 percent of the most highly engaged employees are likely to seriously consider a new job within the next six months.” In other words, it may very well be your top performers who take off for greener pastures. This was reinforced on the employer side, too, with 51 percent of employers stating that holding on to their best employees is one of their current challenges.
What isn’t new to this study is the gap that exists between employee and employer perceptions. Similar to what prior surveys have found, Randstad uncovered a 23-point gap between how “important employees versus employers feel good pay and benefits are for organizations to show their commitment to employees.” Employers need to realize that their employees have been shouldering increased workloads with little change in pay for several years. Adding insult to injury, media headlines over the past year have highlighted strong corporate profits. At some point, unless companies begin to raise salaries employees will be forced to make a change as their only means for increasing their pay.
Another area of concern is the lack of available advancement opportunities. About one-in-four respondents say that they would give their employer a grade of “D” or “F” when it comes to advancement opportunities. This is a no-brainer, and an issue that could prove even more troublesome as the economy recovers. Employees who have been sidelined from advancement simply because of the downturn rather than a lack of skills will be motivated to find an opportunity that does afford advancement.
While it’s always helpful to understand what’s going on with America’s workforce as a whole, it’s far better for organizations to use this information as motivation to fully examine the perspectives of their employees. Our advice is to conduct the necessary internal research that will help your organization determine what it needs to do moving forward to foster both engagement and retention.