New study reveals shift in balance of power to employees

More than half of today’s workers are looking for a new job

A study conducted by management and human resources consulting firm Towers Perrin reveals that Canadian workers have a new attitude – and they’re not afraid to use it.

The 2001 Towers Perrin Talent Report: New Realities in Today’s Workforce interviewed 5,707 North American workers, including 765 Canadians, across all organizational levels in companies with 500 or more employees in a variety of industries.

The report revealed four trends with regard to Canadian workers:

Workers are confident, well-informed consumers of employment opportunities. More than half of today’s employees (58 per cent) are in the market for a new job – 13 per cent actively and 45 per cent “passively” (talking with friends at other companies, searching job postings on Web sites and talking with someone who has recently left their company). Half of the passive job seekers are in the 30–44-year-old age group.

There is no longer a stigma attached to mobility and short length-of-service. 65 per cent of Canadian respondents felt it was no longer necessary to spend a certain amount of time with one company. Only eight per cent said that three to five years was the appropriate time and 77 per cent of them were in the 45–54-year-old age category.

Employees define what they expect in their relationship with their employer in increasingly complex ways. When employees were asked to identify themselves with one of five career attitude groups, 26 per cent slotted themselves into the “company-dedicated careerist” group. A total of 27 per cent saw themselves as “fast-trackers”, “experimenters” or “free agents” – groups that identified more closely with individual success, rather than with company success. However, the largest number of respondents (47 per cent) saw themselves as “balanced careerists”, making work/life balance a priority.

Employee decisions about whether or not to join or stay with a company – and how much effort they’ll invest in their work – are influenced by different considerations. Employees value different things at different stages of their career and their working relationship with the company. Their decision to join a company is influenced by specific elements of the employment deal (i.e., competitive base salary, health care benefits). However, workers’ decisions regarding how much effort to put into their work depend on various factors: a reputation in the marketplace as a good employer; an environment that supports teamwork and innovation; leadership effectiveness; a culture that recognizes top performers; development and advancement opportunities; and a clear relationship between employees’ day-to-day activities and business goals.

The survey also emphasized the key role managers play in the engagement and retention of employees. Despite the economic slowdown, 91 per cent of managers surveyed confirmed that it’s as difficult or more difficult to find the right staff as it was six months ago. According to Towers Perrin consultant Claudine Kapel, the study reveals a huge gap between employee expectations and how those needs are being met by managers. “Understanding the workforce and how to unleash employee potential is imperative if organizations want to retain their staff,” says Kapel.

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