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War on Talent? Really?!

I recently read an interesting article on the recession and its effects on an employee’s relationship with their employer. The findings they released last week are thought provoking to say the least.

A little about the study – it was a global study (Global Workforce Study from Towers Watson which concluded January 2010) of over 20,000 workers in 22 countries. Of the 20,000 workers, 1,100 were US workers.

81% of all workers – not just Americans – who are emloyed are not actively looking for a new job. 3/4 of the respondents place job security over job advancement and pay. They responded that they have lowered career and retirement expectations!

As far as the United States, here’s some interesting statistics:

From an HR perspective (and the media says this as well!), there’s currently “a war to attract top talent”! Seems more like we all might just be fighting the wrong war. When in fact, organizations should be waging a war to hold on to critical talent. I know in the past I have been preaching this here on GovLoop. The challenge is to engage and motivate these workers who are recession fatigued.

What are your thoughts? Are we a nation fighting the wrong talent war?

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Profile Photo Scott Thomsen

Development and retention of your talented employees is a critical strategic imperative for successful organizations. Over the course of my career, I’ve always found that I was most valuable to the organization that was trying to recruit me. They would offer me better pay, better assignments, better conditions to join. But once I joined, the upwardly mobile path often slowed to a crawl within the organization. Eventually the grass would be greener elsewhere and I would move on to advance my career. My old organization then had the challenge and cost of replacing me.

I’m fortunate to work for an organization now that values developing its employees and creates opportunities for advancement.

The lesson in all of this is that organizations must identify their best people and do what they can to keep them. Job security, particularly in the current economy, is an important consideration. What the authors who invented “downsizing” learned is that breaking the bonds of commitment between employer and worker turned every employee into a free agent. Keeping the good ones is far more efficient and effective than constantly trying to replace them.

Profile Photo Joshua joseph

As a numbers geek, it’s a bit hard to interpret the stats without more info. About a third of the US workforce (~ 35%) is age 55+, so it’s possible that the great majority in this age group are saying 2-3 organizations is ideal, while most younger workers are actually saying they’re looking to work for 8-10 positions in a career. The 40% average across all workers could mean very different things to HR strategists depending on how the demographics split. Geek moment done 😉

Totally agree with your larger point. People switch jobs for lots of reasons but the most talented workers will always have good options. To me that suggests exactly what Scott points out — that the most successful companies distinguish themselves by giving these employees good reasons to want to stick around, despite the temptations elsewhere. Most of the studies I’ve point to things like creating a supportive environment, giving people the opportunity to do good work and having trusted colleagues/leaders around.

Profile Photo Candace Riddle

Again, using myself as an example and representing the “under 30” employee…

Having been laid off from a large financial firm in early 2009, I have began to place a much larger value on company benefits, management, and opportunity for advancement. These three factors have been key in keeping me with my current company.
Pay is less than desirable for someone who holds a Series 7, Series 66, and several other licenses, in addition to a B.A. However, my current company has excellent management, health insurance, a retirement plan with match, and they’re willing to pay for my M.A.
It is not ideal but I value the benefits and opportunity more than pay right now.

Profile Photo Lisa Coates

I agree with Joshua and Scott. Organizations need to give talented employees reasons to stick around. Costs to replace and train new individuals usually outweigh offering better conditions for current employees.