Retaining employees after the economy improves could be a bigger challenge than right-sizing the workforce. Adecco Group, a global provider of HR services, recently conducted another of their workplace surveys and reported the following:
…the most serious threat to employers in this recession may be its end. The survey indicates every company's greatest asset, its human capital, might be its most tenuous, as employers could see an unprecedented exodus of talent when the job market rebounds. More than half (54%) of employed adults report they are at least somewhat likely to look for new jobs once the economy turns around.
I can’t speak to the accuracy of Adecco’s findings, given that the company doesn’t provide details about how their surveys are conducted, but I think the findings do draw attention to a problem worth considering as the economy begins to improve (We can only hope!). That is, employees who are nervous about making a change when the economy is so tenuous will bail when things start to improve. And this might be most true for the youngest employees, the 18 to 29 year-olds, as is pointed out by Roberta Matuson on her blog, Generation Integration.
Leadership coach and former auto company manager, Bernie Donkerbrook, said to me that the implications of these findings are “huge” for business. Companies have downsized to the point that nearly every person remaining is critical to success. If these employees start leaving just as the economic rebound is occurring, their organizations will have a hard time taking advantage of new opportunities. Recovery will be slowed considerably. And if many of the young seek greener pastures, companies will lose much of their energy and innovative thinking. Of course, as Donkerbrook reminded me, “The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.” What happens when they change jobs only to find that their new situation isn’t any better than their last situation?
All organizations, nonprofits and government agencies as well as businesses, need to do what they can now to keep their best employees. I’ve posted previously about some of these actions: communicate often; build trust by being transparent about the present and future of the company; listen intently to employees; follow through on promises; and recognize and reward performance. Create a workplace that looks just as green from both sides of the fence.