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Forget the boomers – worry about the leavers

October 15, 2015

By George Brown, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

As the last of the “Veteran” employees and the huge number of Baby Boomers head into retirement over the next decade, it is a well-known fact that employers will find themselves competing for an increasingly smaller talent pool. As if that isn’t enough to worry about, a recent study warns us that the number of “leavers” at your workplace is also growing.

Mercer’s latest Inside Employees’ Minds™ research found that almost half employees who claim to be very satisfied with their company and job are nevertheless planning to leave.

The survey also found that 37% of all workers — not just those who claim to be satisfied with their employer and their job — are seriously considering leaving their organizations. Back in 2011 that number was 33%.

But the really significant takeaway from the survey is not that the overall percentage of people planning to leave is going up. Rather, it is the implication that the decision to leave is not driven by whether or not the employee likes his or her job or employer. It is that employees today simply see themselves as needing to move on sooner or later, no matter what.

“The survey confirms what employers have been seeing first-hand — a workforce in transition and, increasingly, one on the move,” said Patrick Tomlinson, North American Business Leader for Talent at Mercer. “The new twist is that the inclination to leave is increasingly detached from employees’ satisfaction with jobs, pay, and even growth opportunities. Employers need to shift their talent strategies to understand the modern terms of engagement from the most productive employees.”

And how is this for worrisome:  Another major issue for employers today is leadership development.  The survey results may run up all kinds of red flags for succession planners and talent developers. More than three out of five (63%) senior managers are seriously considering leaving their current roles, in addition to two out of five (39%) of management-level employees. Those numbers compare to only 32% of non-management workers. That suggests that all of the money and time invested in developing mid-level people to assume higher management roles may be leaving the organization along with those very people.

The study’s findings regarding older workers are closer to what most people would expect intuitively. Only 29% of such workers (those between the ages of 50–64) are seriously considering leaving at the present time. The number is much higher (44%) for Millennials (ages 18 – 34); again, not very optimistic, but not very surprising either.

“If employers want to remain competitive in today’s market, they need to create a strategic workforce plan — one that aligns to an evolved value proposition — based on the dynamics of this rapidly changing talent landscape. The plan must consider both engaged and disengaged workers, who account for about a fifth of the overall workforce, according to our research,” Tomlinson continued. “Perhaps more than those who leave, this group has the potential to harm morale and productivity. If your employees stay, you want them engaged and productive.” “The future of successful work relationships between employer and employee will depend on the trifecta of health, wealth and career — and how you make them all flexible to reflect the way people want to work today and what they are looking for in the employment relationship.”

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