While the unemployment rate is still at a record low across the US, turnover is another story. With companies looking for skilled workers and finding it harder than ever to fill vacant or new roles, employees are empowered to leave their current jobs in search of greener pastures.
Now, according to a new survey by Spherion, a whopping 29 percent of workers plan to quit their current jobs over the next year. For Millennial workers, this figure rises to a staggering 38 percent.
"Dissatisfaction with work-life balance and compensation are chief drivers of turnover. Significant numbers of employees surveyed (42%) report they are not happy with their current salaries, and a majority of employees (62%) say flexibility at work and other work-life balance programs and perks have decreased in the last year," Spherion said.
"Only 19% of employees feel their companies have put in more effort to retain them this year."
These numbers are shockingly high when you consider the current fascination with employee engagement and retention that is sweeping the nation. Employers, it would seem based on reports and how much press these topics get, are trying harder than ever before to retain their current.
Spherion even has figures to back this up. According to their survey, 71 percent of employers are more worried this year about talent issues than last year.
"A majority of employers (71%) report being more worried this year about the talent shortage, citing finding qualified/skilled workers and turnover/retention as top concerns," they continue.
"Employers are also worried about worker engagement: only one-third believe their employees are highly engaged; yet, almost half (48%) of employees say they are highly engaged at work, indicating a disconnect between employers and their employees."
So What's the Answer? Is There Anything Employers Can Do?
While, on paper, it seems like companies are truly worried and are, in fact, implementing things to increase retention and engagement, the survey suggests that what companies are currently doing is not enough.
Most of the time, when people talk about retention and how to keep their staff members happily aboard, people jump straight to work-life balance and salaries. This makes a lot of sense because those are two very important factors when it comes to retention.
However, the survey finds that many employers are missing one key element: the actual job people perform.
Most workers want to do something they believe in and are passionate about. You can pay someone well but, at the end of the day, if they are not happy with that they are doing for 40 plus hours per week, they will likely always field job opportunities that allow them to allign more with what they truly want to do.
"For their part, employees are clear about what they want and need at work. The survey reveals that 62% of employees want to work for a company that shares their passions, and 58% want to work for a company that advocates for causes they care about personally," Spherion states.
"Yet, many employers aren't hearing it. Almost half of employees (44%) report having difficulties finding a company that offers them opportunities to pursue their passions."
So, in summary, employees want to work for a place that cares about the same things they do. At the same time, they want to be actually doing something they are passionate about.
That last bit is quite a challenge for employers. For example, if someone at a company has a passion for art and graphic design, but their role is to update spreadsheets, they will likely jump ship if a more creative, art-driven job comes their way.
The team also found a few other things that employers could do to increase retention.
The first is real-time feedback. While many companies have already adopted this approach because it leads to a more agile organization as a whole, the majority still only performs yearly reviews.
"Employees want real-time feedback, yet most employers (58%) still conduct performance reviews just once per year. Almost one-fifth of employees (18%) say their employers don't do performance reviews," the team says.
Second, compensation. There is a real disconnect here because employers and employees. For employers, they believe that lower wages are okay because they offer other benefits from the job. Workers simply do not feel this way. The team reports that almost one-third of Millennials believe they can leave their current role for a higher paying one.
And, based on their ability to job hop and progress their careers in that manner, they're likely right.
Finally, the team also points out that there is skills gap disconnect. Employees believe that their current development plan will not help them attain a promotion at their current employer. At the same time, they feel like their employers do not understand what skills they want to develop or need to develop to progress their careers.
The takeaway here is simple: there are a lot of disconnects between employers and employees. Thanks to a tight labor market, employees have the power to swap jobs and work at places that allow them to pursue their passions while also having a mission that they believe in.
To help retention rates, employers should take an honest look at what employees truly want out of their jobs. Work-life balance and flexibility can only go so far despite these two topics gaining a lot of attention by organizations who want to foster more engagement.