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SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer - Kelly Services
Nina M. Ramsey is SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, for Kelly Services. She holds a Master’s of Education in instructional technology from Wayne State University in Detroit and a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She is a member of the HR Planning Society and the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).
Here’s a statistic that should concern you: of 170,000 employees surveyed across 30 countries, two-thirds are planning to switch organizations within the next year. For the average organization, let alone those that are underperforming, two in every three of their employees are looking to leave in the near term.
There are two possible reactions to hearing this statistic, the first is denial—rationalizing why this can’t or won’t be the case.
A common element of this denial is that many employers will hope for, and rely on, the likelihood that most employees will fail in their attempts to leave. And of course, some will fail. Some employees will discover that their salary and benefits are hard to match. Some will find that their responsibilities will decrease in a comparable role, or that the brand that offers them a job is less desirable than their current one.
But among the employees that are successful, you’d have to assume that an organization’s best talent is likely to be among them. These are the people that the denial response is unlikely to be effective for.
So, does hoping that employees simply fail to find alternative work constitute an effective talent retention strategy? Does relying on the fact that many other competing organizations will be in the same boat with respect to employee dissatisfaction make for sound HR practice? Of course not. Yet, this is exactly what many of us are doing.
On some level, consciously or otherwise, many organizations rely on the failure of their employees’ attempts to find other work when they want it. They rely on other organizations having the same or similar obstacles to employee satisfaction, and on the number of job openings being less than what employees demand.
Yet, no matter which way you look at it, two-thirds of employees planning (and hoping and looking) to leave their current employment this year is more than just a trend, it’s a sign that something is wrong. It’s a sign that even if many of these people do fail to find what they’re really looking for elsewhere, job satisfaction is on the slide.
So, unless we’re all content to watch our best talent walk out the door, we have only one option. And that’s to sit up, take notice and start planning for ways to turn this around. Instead of getting comfortable with the idea that everyone else is in the same boat, listening to what employees are telling us, and then finding solutions is the only way forward.
In my latest whitepaper, Happiness and Meaning at Work, we examine the various ways employees are reassessing their priorities and seeking a greater sense of meaning in their work. We look at how this is influencing the way they compare employers, and the kinds of questions they ask before they even consider working for a brand.
As hiring managers, HR professionals and employees, the research findings examined throughout this paper should indicate a major shift in the way we need to manage and engage in the hiring process. Fundamentally, it’s no longer about the job, but about the broader context of the role and of the organization within the local and global community—and this is what we need to work harder to sell, and to get right.
Unless we’re content to hope that our employees simply fail to find the work they’re seeking, it’s time to sit up and take notice of the talent exodus that employees are telling us is going to happen.
To find out more, download, Happiness and Meaning at Work - What we can learn from employees about talent management, my new white paper on Talent Acquisition and Retention.