Weekly Wrap: Workers May Leave? Survey Says Employers Don’t Care

Much has been written (and a lot of it by me) about how employees are ready to jump to another job as soon as another good opportunity comes along.

This should be a concern for employers, no?

Well, no. Believe it or not, employee retention doesn’t seem to matter all that much today, and this latest survey puts an exclamation point on that.

According to a poll of nearly 1,000 companies by AMA Enterprise, a division of the American Management Association, 69 percent of respondents “see nothing new in employees keeping an eye out for new opportunities,” although about one-quarter of those surveyed concede that “turnover is a growing workplace issue and expect many employees to move on” to a new job as soon as they can.

Key questions about employee retention

Here are the two key questions asked in this survey:

1. Many employees have expressed their intention to seek a new position. How do you regard such sentiments?

    • 69 percent say that “It’s nothing new for employees to keep an eye out for new opportunities, and I don’t regard the present situation as something unusual;”
    • 24 percent indicate that, “This is a growing mind-set among our employees, and I expect many to seek a new job as soon as they’re able.”
    • 7 percent say that, “This has become a prevalent attitude among our employees and an urgent issue our organization needs to address.

Question No. 2 is even more to the point.

2. In your opinion, how urgent does your senior management regard the potential or actual turnover situation?

    • 9 percent  Very urgent;
    • 30 percent — Somewhat urgent;
    • 39 percent — Not so urgent;
    • 22 percent — Not urgent at all.

Turnover not seen as an “urgent issue”

Yes, you read that right — 61 percent of respondents to the AMA survey thought the potential for turnover was “not so urgent” or “not urgent at all.” Tells you something about the mindset of management today, doesn’t it?

“At most of the organizations surveyed, senior management doesn’t yet see turnover as an urgent issue,” said Sandi Edwards, Senior Vice President of AMA Enterprise, which provides organizations with assessment, measurement and tailored learning solutions.

As she added (in a press release about the survey): “Are they being dangerously complacent? Or perhaps they’ve gotten used to hearing threats to leave from those who have felt overworked or under appreciated during the economic downturn.”

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My sense is that far too many employees think the notion of employees leaving for another job is simply talk and not worth worrying about. After all, despite the very modest economic recovery, it’s not like there is a huge amount of hiring going on just yet.

Top-level execs are not tuned in

In fact, the current economic recovery has really been noteworthy for how slowly job growth has moved along, with what would normally be considered pretty mediocre increases in the monthly employment picture being heralded as big news — which I guess it is, if you compare it with how badly the job growth numbers have been lagging.

No wonder employers don’t take the thought that employees might bolt for something better very seriously.

“The lack of focus on turnover tells me that many top-level executives are not tuned into the widespread worker dissatisfaction found in so much recent research,” noted AMA’s Edwards. “Intent to leave is a key indicator of engagement and commitment to the organization. If management wants the best out of its people, they need to be aware of their stress and contribution levels. Management needs to work with them individually to understand what will meet their career goals along with what has to be done to drive the organization forward.”

The survey was conducted from December 18, 2012 to January 6, 2013, and respondents consisted of 977 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals and employees drawn from the AMA database.

So, make of this survey what you will. Is it a sign of the economic times, or just another reminder that the workforce has fundamentally changed and that retention, while nice, doesn’t really matter all that much anymore?

Why is Google such a great place to work?

Of course, there’s a lot more than the latest survey about employer attitudes towards their workers in the news this week. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • More employers setting up nap rooms. Worker fatigue is a problem, it seems, and some employers are responding by creating nap rooms for employees to get a quick break. According to this story from the Asbury Park Press via USA Today,American workers emerging from the recession have been under pressure to work harder, with fewer hands on deck. They’ve been handed technology to help them remain in constant touch. And they’ve been taking care of children and aging parents. … Employees of the Paramus, N.J., investment firm sign up for 20-minute blocks of restorative time twice a week and emerge energized, as if hitting the restart button.”
  • What makes Google a great place to work? Fast Company has a great article digging into some of the specific things Google does to create a great, high-performance workplace. “What few in business know is that Google has devoted the same level of intellectual firepower it used to create self-driving cars to discovering, refining, and implementing leadership practices that optimize human performance in the workplace. Upending traditional leadership theory, which directs organizations to squeeze as much out of people while paying them as little as possible, Google holds an authentic reverence for its employees and seeks to not just appeal to their uber-developed minds in motivating performance, but also to their very human hearts.”
  • Fired after complaining about sexual comments. Here’s a story worth reading, from my friend Dan Nakaso at the San Jose Mercury News: “A female tech developer who outed men on Twitter for making what she described as inappropriate sexual comments at a Santa Clara technology conference (last) Sunday is being hailed as a champion for women in technology. But the backlash against Adria Richards has been brutal and swift. Richards, who is based in San Francisco, has been fired from her job as a “developer evangelist” at SendGrid, a Colorado-based email delivery company, according to tech blog VentureBeat. And she has received disturbing comments on her Twitter feed and violent images referencing rape and murder.”
  • Only in California — a fight over new vs. used cubicles. California can cause even the most even-tempered manager or business owner to go bonkers, and this story from the Contra Costa Times over where to place a new state health care (yes, more Obamacare) call center comes down to this – can they cut costs by using older cubicles? It’s worth a read because it again shows one of the unintended consequences of the sweeping national health care law. Caveat emptor, I suppose.
  • How to fail a job interview. Author and comedian Jeff Havens interviewed HR professionals about the worst things people have said and done in job interviews. See if any of these are things you have encountered while interviewing job candidates.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


3 Comments on “Weekly Wrap: Workers May Leave? Survey Says Employers Don’t Care

  1. Great post as always, John,

    I would submit that the reason for lack of alarm over employee turnover is tied to the fact that – despite the large costs of rehiring – most employers understand that turnover is a fact of the modern workplace. Even once hiring picks up to something approaching pre-financial crisis levels, the truth of the matter is that employees (on average) aren’t going to stay with one company forever.

    Turnover, it seems, is the cost of doing business in today’s marketplace.

    Thanks for sharing, and keep writing.



  2. Employers show no urgency to retain employees because of the simplistic fact that they only care about profits. Many employees leave for one of two reasons (sometimes both):
    1.) Stress
    2.) Lack of pay, or chance for advancement (as advancement usually equals more pay).
    They literally are only interested in people who will work for poverty or below market wages (depending on the job classification), so as they can increase their personal wealth. Whatever happened to Henry Ford’s idea that you should pay people enough money that they can afford to buy the products they make/sell? I work for a Menards in the Midwest, and I can tell you right now – I can’t afford anything in my department. John Menard believes I should be a wage slave barely scraping by, so he and his moron son Paul can go play with all the rich NASCAR people. And we wonder why the economy won’t improve? It’s owners and managers with that kind of stupid mindset that are keeping the recovery from happening.

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