SHRM poll: Many managers will bolt for the right offer

By Theresa Minton-Eversole Dec 15, 2006

Turnover stats have many HR professionals squirming, and the results of a just-released job retention poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and probably won’t help soothe their uneasiness.

Nearly three-quarters of approximately 400 HR professionals who responded to SHRM’s 2006 Job Retention Poll conducted in September reported being concerned about the number of voluntary resignations that have occurred in their organizations since the beginning of the year. On average, respondents said, involuntary turnover is running approximately 12 percent.

“HR professionals’ and their impression of senior management’s level of concern about the number of involuntary resignations continues to grow,” said Jessica Frincke, survey research specialist with SHRM’s Research Department. “It is becoming more difficult to attract and retain quality staff due a competitive and shrinking labor market.”

In a similar poll of nearly 500 employees conducted by—web site for The Wall Street Journal—41 percent of respondents admitted they are actively searching for a new job, while 35 percent considered themselves passive jobseekers. Only 21 percent indicated they were not looking for a job at all, with male employees more likely to be job searching than female employees.

“As the economy and job market continue to improve, employee retention poses a greater challenge for HR professionals,” said Gail Griffin, general manager, “The top three reasons people voluntarily leave their organizations are for better compensation elsewhere, career opportunity elsewhere, and dissatisfaction with the potential for career development.”

Non-managerial employees were more likely than managerial employees or executives to resign voluntarily from their current position if the economy and job market continue to improve, according to 71 percent of HR professionals.

Combating the exodus

A greater proportion of organizations are implementing special retention processes this year (49 percent) than in 2004 (35 percent), according to poll results. HR professionals and employees agreed that promoting qualified employees, offering competitive merit increases/salary adjustments and providing career development opportunities are among the best employee-retention strategies, while bonuses were cited as the best retention strategy for the executive ranks.

Although salary increases often are perceived as the most valuable incentive for employees to stay with their current jobs, they are among the most difficult to provide. Although the economy is improving, organizations are still somewhat cautious about increasing spending.

“Offering competitive salaries is important to employees. However, compensation alone is not sufficient for a complete retention strategy,” said Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of SHRM. “Career development opportunities and work/life balance are also important, and employers must consider these types of benefits in their retention practices if they want to maintain or increase retention at their organizations.”

Indeed, employees 35 or younger and employees 55 or older were more likely to indicate that work/life balance difficulties would cause them to look for other employment opportunities. In addition, 27 percent of non-management employees cited dissatisfaction with potential career development as a key reason they would leave their current job.

“The reasons employees leave their organizations can vary widely, particularly when taking into account various demographics such as gender, age, years in the workforce and organization sector,” said Frincke. “Employers have used employee attitudinal surveys and exit interviews to learn more about what employees think about their organization. Taking steps to develop and implement well-planned retention strategies also can have a positive effect on the bottom line and help to stay in tune with employees.”

Theresa Minton-Eversole is manager of SHRM’s Staffing Management Focus Area.

Related resource:

2005 U.S. Job Recovery and Retention Survey Report, SHRM and, November 2005

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