Employers having trouble attracting, retaining workers: Surveys

Still 'missing the mark' when it comes to career development
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/30/2014

With hiring and turnover levels on the rise, employers are now experiencing challenges with both attracting and retaining employees, especially top performers and high-potential employees. And many employers don’t understand the important reasons why employees join and stay with a company, according to two surveys by Towers Watson.

There has been an uptick in labour market activity, found the Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey. Globally, 48 per cent of employers said hiring activity has increased compared with last year and 35 per cent indicated turnover was rising.

Nearly two in three respondents are experiencing problems attracting top performers (64 per cent) and high-potential employees (64 per cent), found the survey of 1,637 companies worldwide (including 95 from Canada).

And more than one-half reported difficulty retaining high-potential employees (56 per cent) and top performers (54 per cent).

However, there’s a big disconnect between and employers and employees when it comes to understanding what workers value, said Ofelia Isabel, managing director of Towers Watson’s reward, talent & communication business in Canada.

“Employers seem to recognize the importance of pay and career advancement as key reasons employees choose to join and stay with a company, but they don’t place the same importance on the two other top attraction and retention drivers — job security and trust and confidence in senior leadership.”

Job security is the second most important reason people join a company and the fourth most important reason they stay, according to the Towers Watson Global Workforce Study, a survey of 32,000 employees worldwide (including more than 1,000 from Canada).

Employees also ranked trust and confidence in senior leadership as the third most important reason they stick with a company. However, employers did not rank any of these factors as key attraction and retention drivers.

Less than one-half of employees think their company does a good job when it comes to attracting and retaining the right workers. Only 46 per cent said their organization hires highly qualified employees while 42 per cent said their employer does a good job of retaining talented employees.

Many employees also feel blocked in their current position. Four in 10 employees (41 per cent) said they would need to leave their organization in order to advance their careers while another 41 per cent of employees who have been formally identified as high potentials by their organization said they would need to leave their organization to advance their careers, found the Global Workforce Study.

And less than one-half of employers (49 per cent) believe they are effective at providing traditional career advancement opportunities, while 35 per cent said that compared with last year, career advancement opportunities are improving.

“Organizations are still missing the mark when it comes to career development. Given how important career advancement opportunities are to employees, the fact that so many high-potential employees feel stuck should serve as a wake-up call to employers to review how they develop careers,“ said Sandra

McLellan, Toronto leader of the rewards, talent & communication business at Towers Watson. ”As hiring activity continues to increase, employers need to recognize that their key employees are going to have more options and it’s going to be harder to replace them.”

Leadership is the top driver of sustainable engagement (meaning the intensity of employees’ connection to their organization). However, 48 per cent agreed that senior leadership is effective, found the Global Workforce Study.

“The importance of leadership can’t be overemphasized. Employees are more likely to stay with their current employer if they have trust and confidence in their senior management and leaders. Senior leaders, managers and supervisors all play a critical role in fully engaging employees,“ said McLellan.

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