Category Archives: retention

Most Read Stories on HREOnline last week

See what you may have missed:

* Checking in With the Next Generation

Peter Cappelli ‘s latest Talent Management column looks at Wharton’s annual mid-term exam, which explores students’ view of their last job and the way they were managed. In most cases, management was lacking. Feedback was limited or nonexistent, and bonuses — instead of resulting in engagement and motivation — often prompted these high-potential candidates to quit or slack off. 

* Time to Re-Engage

Top businesses for HR practices — according to an exclusive recalibration of Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” list — are taking employee engagement very seriously in this economy. (A PDF of the Top 50 Companies is here.)

E-Learning Still Trending Up

Companies continue to adopt technology-based training for employees as expenditures in training and development decreased overall last year. At the same time, the expenditure per employee actually remained stable, because the workforce was smaller.

 * Pinpointing Leadership Qualities

Social networking is changing the way HR leaders think of legal risks and recruiting opportunities, writes Susan R. Meisinger in her latest HR Leadership column. It also should make them think about the way they select high-potential candidates for leadership-development programs.

* Talking up Flexibility

Work/life balance is drawing more attention from the White House and other policymakers as research continues to show that the issue has an impact on the decisions of working families. A recent conference brought together representatives from the administration, military, academia and corporate America to attempt to drive the discussion onward.

Conaty on Squawk Box: Are You Ready?

Caught Human Resource Executive Forum® closing keynote speaker Bill Conaty (former GE SVP of HR) on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning discussing his new book (The Talent Masters), the economy and jobs.

Conaty noted the leverage at this time continues to be with employees and not employers. “Employees right now are on the short end of the stick … they’re kind of stuck; they can’t move, they can’t sell a house, the job market isn’t that robust,” he said.

“But when the sun comes out in this economy, and it will at some point in time, I think those so-to-speak loyal, dedicated employees are going to start answering phone calls from search firms.”

You can read a Q&A we did with Bill in the November issue of HRE on “Mastering Talent,” here.

Factoring in a Freeze

In the wake of the Democrats political setback in November and concerns over the high government deficits, President Barack Obama caught some by surprise yesterday when he proposed a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers.  

“The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government,” Obama told reporters. The freeze would require Congressional approval.

As might be expected, Republican lawmakers applauded the announcement, noting it was a move in the right direction of getting the deficit under control, while union leaders criticized the freeze, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calling it “bad for the economy” and “bad for business.”

But however this ultimately plays out, there’s no denying the proposed freeze comes at an interesting time, as many government agencies continue to brace for an exodus of retiring baby boomers, who now have one more item to factor into their decision making.

Most Read HREOnline™ Stories Last Week

See what our readers found most interesting last week:

Enough with the Generation Studies!

Peter Cappelli’s new column on the entire industry that has grown around the concept that differences exhibited by the younger generations are long-lasting and important for employers to understand and accommodate. But what if the younger generation today is similar in most respects to the younger generations of past years? 

Despite Recession, Labor Shortage Looms

Career interest from high-schoolers graduating this year is much lower than the projected job openings in the five fastest-growing industries for 2018. But how can companies even address a potential labor shortage when unemployment is currently so high?

Reassessing Work/Life Balance

As a result of the recession, employees are re-evaluating what work really means to them, according to new academic research, and the results aren’t pretty. But therein lies an opportunity for HR to step up and make a difference, experts say.

Defining the Employee Relationship Chain

This article by Ed Cohen and Priscilla Nelson addresses the three stages of a successful employee relationship — which converts to strong retention. The relationship begins with onboarding and evolves into alignment with the organization and recognition for his or her contributions. The final stage, which often is not achieved, is when the employee views the organization and its leaders as trusted advisers.

Lattice vs. Ladder

Some companies are finding retention and engagement benefits in encouraging employees to consider lateral career moves as new paths to success.

A 10 Percent Solution

Is Google serious about retaining talent?

A story in today’s Wall Street Journal reports that the Mountain View, Calif., company will be raising its 23,000 employees’ salaries by 10 percent, effective in January. CEO Eric Schmidt delivered the news in an e-mail to employees, the WSJ said. “We want to make sure that you feel rewarded for your hard work,” Schmidt wrote. “We want to continue to attract the best people to Google.”

To be sure, it’s interesting timing. The decision comes on the heels of a settlement between the Department of Justice and Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Intuit and Pixar, in which the six companies agreed to eliminate their no-poaching agreement.

The WSJ article suggested that the move comes as Google “ramps up its battle with competitors, especially neighboring Facebook Inc., in a fight to secure talented staff.”  About 10 percent of Facebook’s employees are Google veterans, the story said.

Earlier this morning, I spoke to Kerry Chou, senior practice leader at WorldatWork in Scottsdale, Ariz., about the announcement. Chou confirmed an across-the-board 10 percent hike is extremely unusual, especially in today’s low inflationary environment. “It does indicate they’re trying to solve some kind of problem, though it’s not clear what that problem is,” Chou says.

(How rare is it? When I googled “10 percent pay increase,” the only other story that came close concerned the Encinitas City Council—near San Diego—which considered a 10 percent pay hike earlier this year.  I doubt I would have fared any better were I to google 20 percent.)

Don Delves, president of The Delves Group in Chicago, told me this is “one of those things Google does because it can.” Others will look at it and be envious, he adds.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the move, Delves says, but most companies would be “more strategic and calculating” in how they go about doing this. He then pauses a moment and adds: “I suppose the beauty here is it’s a simple, bold move that you can summarize in a paragraph. But it’s also very expensive.”

If the problem is indeed retention, as the WSJ article suggests, Chou says Google might want to manage its expectations. “Pay has more bite for potential employees, but once you have someone onboard and want to retain them, things like culture and technology increase in importance,” he points out.

Perhaps.  But I suspect it won’t hurt.

The Eternal Vacation

Better get ready for an end-of-Labor-Day-vacation “purging” of your workforce. According to a survey published in the Memphis Business Journal, 40 percent of U.S. professionals are thinking about quitting their jobs after their summer vacations.

The survey, provided by workplace supplier Regus, finds workers are tired of not being promoted, bosses that don’t share company goals and being overworked. “As workers pack up their swimsuits this summer, they are more likely to dwell on the pros and cons of the job that is waiting for them at home,” Sande Golgart, Regus’ regional vice president, is quoted as saying in the Business Journal story.

The piece also includes another recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing productivity dropped at an annual rate of 0.9 percent during the second quarter of 2010.

Drs. Brent D. Peterson and Gaylan Nielson, co-founders of The Work Itself Group based in Salt Lake City, say these stats point to the immense drain on the economy due to large numbers of employees doing 50 percent “fake work,” defined as having no alignment with business strategy.

In a study they did in conjunction with Franklin/Covey, they cite a recent Gallup poll showing the cost of disengaged workers is estimated at $300 billion per year. They also list findings that 70 percent of employees are unable to name a single department/company goal or strategy and 50 percent of work done at the workplace does not align with a company’s vision or goals.

Not the greatest fodder for a Labor Day pep rally.

Training, the New Engagement/Retention Tool

Interesting and kind of surprising release here from Office Team citing a much larger number of HR professionals concerned about training and developing employees than those concerned about losing the top-performing ones.

Goes against much of what we’ve been hearing, that HR leaders’ top worries heading out of the recession and into the recovery are centered around keeping disgruntled employees engaged and retaining the top talent that’s already poised to leave.

But the release also includes a link to a recent Robert Half study confirming what the Office Team respondents seem to be “getting” — that post-recession employees are looking to employers more for their help in making them more marketable than as havens of job security. Makes sense that a shaky economy would have instilled in them this new sentiment.

In a survey we just conducted at HRE, which is at the heart of our upcoming Sept. 2 cover story on what’s keeping HR executives up at night, 45 percent of the 802 HR executives who responded said their most significant challenge today is the need to keep employees engaged and productive, followed by retaining key talent as the economy recovers (34 percent) and the importance of developing leaders (33 percent). In that survey, and in our story, development initiatives were cited as key tools for boosting engagement.

I think what these findings all underscore is that training and development — often relegated to the bottom rung of corporate expenditures during weak economies — now appear to be employers’ top engagement tools, topping any other morale-booster, or employee survey, or communication initiative.

Indeed, training and developing recession-weary workers — not just for your sake, but for theirs — appears to speak volumes.

A Glass Half Empty

Not much good news in the Business Barometer survey released today by The Corporate Executive Board. It reflects a drop in the optimism of HR executives — and other senior corporate leaders as well.

According to the survey, HR executives have dropped their expectations — from Q2 — of employee engagement (32 percent think employees will be less engaged) and anticipate higher turnover (54 percent compared to 39 percent in Q2). 

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of  HR leaders expect a moderate increase of one-to-four percent in average labor costs this year, while four in 10 (42 percent) expect average health benefits to increase by one-to-nine percent, with 18 percent expecting a higher than 10 percent increase.

The survey polls more than 440 senior executives in six functional business roles in North America and Europe across 33 industries.

It found that the executives expect higher revenues for their companies this year (68 percent), but fewer are optimistic about their respective industries’ growth prospects (only 50 percent say they expect their industries to grow). A majority are anxious about rising cost pressures (68 percent).

Escape from the Job

You have to know most employees are retention risks when the antics of Jet Blue’s (former?) air flight attendant Steven Slater receive such acclaim.

While your employees probably won’t have Facebook fans numbering in the millions or see supporters creating a legal defense fund — hopefully, that won’t be necessary! — HR leaders would be foolish not to think that at least some of their workers are dreaming of leaving their jobs in similarly brazen fashion.

According to a recent HREOnline™ story, Top Performers Begin Their Flight, employers “need to know what their workers are thinking and what they want from their careers — and then align these with the direction of the business.”

So says Bram Lowsky of Right Management. That’s hardly rocket science, but airline companies, and probably most companies, seem to be unaware — or uncaring — that employees are fed up with work conditions.

With survey after survey showing that workers are fed up and just waiting for a chance to move on, the time is shrinking for HR executives to take the steps necessary to re-engage desired workers.

Raising comp is a common method, but  pay alone won’t be sufficient. In this HREOnline™ story, Tom McMullen of Hay Group advises HR leaders to focus on “their ‘total’ reward programs by offering clearer career paths, more meaningful work experiences, improved work climates, global mobility and targeted development in addition to increased monetary awards.”

Or watch employees jump ship — albeit not as dramatically as Slater!

Vacations are Good for You

OK, a bit of soft news, but worth sharing: This recent release from the University of the Rockies suggests week-long vacations aren’t long enough for optimal benefits to occur — for both employee and employer.

The study — conducted at the Colorado Springs, Colo., graduate school that specializes in master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology — maintains the benefits of vacation length peak at about 10 days, which supports previous research findings that 10 to 14 days of vacation may be the optimal length.

What are the benefits to taking, or granting, a vacation of optimal length, you ask? According to this release, an increase in job satisfaction, a reduction of and protection against job stress and burnout, and an increase in professional well-being (which, of course, boosts employee engagement and morale and, in turn, boosts customer service, your employer brand, the list goes on).

I’ll be interested to see if anyone cares to comment on this, but it’ll have to wait awhile. I leave Thursday for vacation. I’ll be gone 10 days.