Talent retention is still a major problem for HR professionals, especially at a time in which employees can change jobs with unprecedented ease, according to a new Randstad report that analyzed the views of 175,000 global respondents.
Nearly half (45%) of the respondents reported having either changed jobs in the past 12 months or planned to do so in the next year; in 2017, 18% said they planned to switch jobs in 2017, but 27% did so. Among North American respondents, the contingent that had planned to switch jobs in 2017 stood at 17%, while 26% actually did so.
The top reasons cited by respondents for leaving a job were insufficient pay (44%), limited career paths (43%) and a lack of challenging work (30%). Work-life balance was a factor for 28% of the respondents, while lack of recognition stood not too far behind at 27%. In its analysis, Randstad said that money isn’t the only motivation for leaving an employer, especially among higher educated workers; at least 47% of this group said a limited career path could get them to leave for a better opportunity. Employees ages 18 to 24 are more apt to stay with employers who offer better training.
Employers have good reason to be concerned about retention; unemployment is at a record low of 3.9% and could drop even further, making for a scarce talent market in which job-switching doesn’t have the stigma it once had. Skilled workers will naturally be pickier about where they work.
There’s no clear silver bullet to retention, but HR could make a strong case for career development. Millennials in particular have shown in surveys that they believe employers have a responsibility to offer career advancement programs. Workplaces that invest in helping employees move their careers forward will also anticipate future skills gaps before they happen. Unfortunately, employers have trouble leveraging development: only 7% of employees advance their careers through development opportunities with their current employers, according to a 2015 Gallup survey.
Employees don’t always cite money as a top reason for leaving their jobs, but noncompetitive salaries can cause them to look for work where they can earn what they think they’re worth. Wages are employers’ greatest expense and often their greatest concern in keeping business expenses under control. But offering competitive wages can retain current workers and attract new hires.
Giving employees options for where they want to work can also be an effective retention tool. Work flexibility provides the work-life balance most employees value, regardless of age or level of earnings. Offering voluntary benefits can aid retention, but they must be what employees want, need and value.