Companies focusing on retention: Survey

Increasing engagement key to holding on to high-potential talent

Having the right workers for business needs is a top priority for Canadian organizations and employers are realizing they need to do more to hold on to high-potential talent as the job market improves, according to a new survey.

The survey of 2,107 senior executives, conducted by Right Management, found 58 per cent of respondents said aligning their workforce with the business strategy was the top priority for 2010, followed closely by retaining high-value employees (54 per cent).

This is a striking increase from 2008 when just 15 per cent of employers cited retention as a main concern.

"It's no secret that many employees, although glad still to have a job, feel trapped where they are because of the recession," said Henryk Krajewski, a vice-president at Right Management.

"Moreover, company surveys are finding widespread employee discontent as well as intention to seek a new position. Organizations want to meet this challenge before it becomes unmanageable."

Other top priorities included:

• increasing employee engagement: 51 per cent

• developing leaders: 47 per cent

• identifying and developing high-potential talent: 35 per cent

• attracting quality hires: 24 per cent

• workforce reduction or transition: 15 per cent

• redeploying critical talent: 13 per cent

Retaining valued employees is always an issue for HR departments, said Krajewski.

"But economic stresses have tended to push retention off the agenda for the past two years or more. But now, looking over the horizon, employers are moving to engage their workers and to bring them into line with business objectives."

While the findings suggest a reviving job market, there is little evidence Canadian companies will step up hiring any time soon, said Krajewski.

"Employers face a tough challenge. Currently disgruntled employees are likely to remain disengaged as there won't be many new opportunities for them to jump to. So, for the immediate future, employers and employees are more or less stuck with one another. Management needs to take immediate action to re-engage their workforce, and get them committed and re-aligned to the business."

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