A significant increase in employee turnover is forecast for the first quarter of 2006, according to workforce futurists at The Herman Group. "All the indicators we watch suggest the possibility of a surge in job-hopping," says CEO Roger Herman.
Workers have been disenchanted for the past five years, Herman explained. They experienced a serious emotional let-down when the go-go years of the late 1990s stopped short with the economic downturn. As employment shifted from a seller's market to a buyer's market, too many employers took their employees for granted, becoming complacent.
People who were so highly sought after and valued in the late nineties have become disengaged from employers who don't seem to care about them anymore. "Engagement is an emotional issue," says Joyce Gioia (joy-yah), president of The Herman Group. "If workers are not appreciated by their superiors and co-workers, the emotional bonds holding them to the employer weaken. They become much more receptive to other employment opportunities where they will be valued."
In a study that has drawn a lot of attention, Towers Perrin HR Services reports that just 14 percent of workers say they are "fully engaged" on the job and "willing to go the extra mile for their companies." A huge percentage of respondents revealed that they are really not engaged and would just as soon work somewhere else. Those workers are psychologically ready to jump ship if, or rather when, the right opportunity becomes available.
How serious is the problem? The Society for Human Resource Management says a whopping 76 percent of employees are looking for new employment opportunities. About half of these people are actively seeking a new position-posting their resume on Internet job boards, surfing the web, talking with recruiters, networking with friends and colleagues. The rest are described as "passive jobseekers." They're not aggressively searching for a job, but are quite receptive to invitations to consider opportunities.
Jobless claims are at their lowest levels in a long time. Economic growth is creating more jobs; opportunities for people to change jobs are expanding. Corporate recruiters are becoming more active. Retained search firms are enjoying higher levels of orders than they've seen in years. Staffing associations report that their members can't keep up with the demand for qualified employees. Practically every employer surveyed by The Herman Group has mission-critical job vacancies.
"We attribute part of the delay in job movement to a shift in worker priorities," Herman says. "People are more concerned about life-work balance today. As a result of 9/11 and other influences, they're putting family and personal interests ahead of-or at least even with-work demands. That's part of the engagement story: They're engaging more with family than with work."
Employment decisions are being put aside until after the holidays. This period of relative quiet in job movement will send a false signal of security and stability to employers, warns The Herman Group. Recognized thought leaders in employee retention since Roger Herman wrote the first edition of Keeping Good People in 1990, the firm notes recent media commentary about the use of year-end bonuses. "It's all about the level-and sincerity of employee appreciation," notes Gioia. "Workers who feel taken for granted will not stick around when they have other choices."
A significant growth in the use of the Internet to connect employers and applicants will affect impending job movement. Since 1996, Weddle's has conducted ground-breaking surveys of recruiters, job seekers and Web-sites providing employment-related services on the Internet. In a recent study of 3,000 jobseekers, a significantly strong sample, Weddle's discovered that 69.7 percent expect to find their next job from an Internet job board. And the niche job boards are leading the way. These specialized job boards report unprecedented increases in traffic from both employers and job seekers. Interest in job movement is unquestionably rising.
"The Herman Group has experienced a noticeable increase in inquiries from employers concerned about employee retention," notes Herman. The concern is evident, however Herman sees more talk than action. "We're fascinated at how employers are waiting, putting off implementation of retention strategies until they think the time is right. Many of these companies will be caught trying to close the barn door after the horses are gone. As the employment market tightens even further early next year, those employers who take pre-emptive action now will have the competitive advantage."
The Herman Group is a firm of consulting futurists concentrating on workforce and workplace trends and their implications. Emphasis is placed on employee selection and retention as critical strategies. Included in the firm are researchers, professional speakers, authors, and consultants. The Herman Group is based in Greensboro, NC, with affiliates in Sao Paulo, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Port Louis, Mauritius. Contact Joyce Gioia-Herman at 336-210-3548 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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