2012 Turnover and Engagement

By:  Claudia St. John


Looks like 2012 is shaping up to be the recovery year we have long awaited.  But there may be a cloud on the horizon.  Workers, who have been sticking to jobs they may not enjoy because of the poor economy and limited opportunities, will have new opportunities in 2012 to make a change.  And studies suggest this pent up demand to find something better is going to be huge.   Consider the following:

  • Up to 21 million workers will change jobs in 2012, a full 15% of the workforce according to CornerstoneOnDemand and Harris Interactive.  This labor churn is estimated to cost American businesses up to $2 trillion in 2012 alone.
  • Pay adjustments are expected to remain more than 20% below pre-recession increases, rising only 2.8% in 2012, compared to 2.7% in 2011 and 2.9% in 2010.
  • Difficulty attracting and retaining skilled employees will continue into 2012.  A recent Towers Watson survey found that 59% of US companies are finding it difficult to attract critical skills employees and 36% report difficulty retaining employees.
  • Seventy-one percent of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” according to a recent Gallup survey.

For businesses, these findings are a mixed bag – the opportunity to move out disengaged workers may be beneficial.  However, replacing those workers will not be easy given the tight labor market for skilled labor.

The crisis in employee engagement has far-reaching consequences.  Disengaged workers take more sick days, are less productive, provide poor customer service and can be a drag on labor morale.   Fortunately, engagement is a ship that can be turned around.  If you are looking to improve engagement, the best place to start is with the employees themselves

  • Ask them what they want. By asking them what they want (directly or through surveys), you may find that some simple adjustments to the workplace, work day or work culture will go a long way.
  • Tell them how they’re doing.  Employees today face a crisis of feedback.  All too often, managers restrict feedback to what has gone wrong.  Remember to tell employees when something goes right as well.  When giving feedback, keep it balanced, keep it specific, and do it often.
  • Tell them where you are going.  One key motivating factor for employees is feeling informed and included. How is the company doing? What are its goals for the coming year? What changes may be in store?  The more you communicate, the more invested employees will feel in your company’s future.

With a workforce on the move, the best strategy is a good defense and a dedication to employee engagement is a great defensive strategy.


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