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Engagement, Retention & Recruiting Remain Top Challenges

by Ben Miele

Too often, I hear from short-sighted organization leaders “My people should feel lucky to have a job in this economy.”

Even in this economy, that kind of cavalier approach to employee well-being is negatively affecting companies in three key ways:

1) Engagement – Employees who have survived rounds of layoff suffer from survivor guilt at the same time as picking up the work of multiple former colleagues. They are pulling out all the stops – some out of fear of being laid-off themselves, some because they believe in the company and its mission. Failure to recognize and appreciate these employees for their often heroic efforts is asking for a reduction in productivity and performance.

2) Retention – A recent global survey found:

“Fifty-six percent of the more than 6,000 financial leaders surveyed in 19 countries said they are at least somewhat concerned about retaining their staff in the coming year, up from 45 percent in 2010. … In the U.S., 43 percent of the executives polled this year cited worries about keeping their best people, up from 28 percent in 2010.”

Employers cannot ignore the fact that good employees always have options to change jobs in a challenging economy. Companies engaging in further layoffs – especially in technology, finance and accounting – should be particularly concerned. When these layoffs are announced, recruiters are descending on the hard-to-find and hard-to-replace talent, using fear tactics to suggest these solid employees would be better off elsewhere.

To avoid this, organization leaders must proactively create a culture of recognition in which employees know how deeply valued and appreciated they are by their managers and the organization as a whole.

3) Recruitment – The same global survey mentioned above also found:

“Sixty-seven percent of the financial leaders surveyed reported at least some level of recruiting difficulty. Approximately 19 percent of the respondents said it is very challenging to find skilled accounting and finance professionals today.”

I’ve read countless stories on unemployment levels in America. One common theme is there are millions of open job positions, but not for the skills of those who are now unemployed. Therefore, it is naive for organization leaders to think their people with skills in high-demand cannot be easily recruited away to a company that will recognize their value and appreciate them for their hard work – beyond “giving them a job.”

Does your organization struggle with engaging your current team, retaining key talent, or recruiting for specialist skills? What are you doing to ensure your key people remain engaged in and committed to your organization?


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