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October 14, 2011

HR Fact Friday: What Happened to Common Sense?

Being both an HR and sales/marketing professional I look carefully at emerging market trends. I figure if I’m doing my job properly I am working 30-60 days ahead of the sale to generate leads and have trained, motivated sales staff in place to give demos and provide information.  As a hiring and people manager I also know of the considerable investment in time and company resources that go into each and every new hire.   Consider the job posting, on-boarding and days of hands on orientation/training to bring on new staff and get them to a point of self-reliant productivity. It is a big investment that doesn’t have a lot of ROI on the front end; especially if the new employee is replacing a top performer who left because the grass was seemingly greener elsewhere.

So why do some employers disregard workplace conditions and employee morale and expect longer hours and greater commitment from workers during tough times and then don’t understand when a trained and experienced worker quits–I mean this is a bad economy, workers aren’t supposed to quit. Nobody is hiring, right?

Where is the common sense? Let us consider two different surveys:  One indicates that nearly two-thirds of employers expect staffers to work more hours than they did before the recession. And another says employee turnover is expected to increase significantly over the next five years. What’s wrong with this picture? Based on survey results from survey A expecting longer hours the outcome of survey B (higher turnover) is expected by employers.  For some positions there is a relatively large labor pool but for other critical-skill positions why risk it at all? And even hiring an entry level staffer to replace an experienced employee who quit requires a significant investment in time and resources.

Research from HR consultancy Towers Watson said not only do most employers expect employees to put in additional time at work, employers expect the practice to continue into the foreseeable future.

Another poll, this one from Right Management, said that 59% of American companies think they’ll be seeing increased turnover in the next several years.

The Towers Watson poll said the longer hours may be taking a toll: “Respondents are concerned about the impact that organizational changes they made in response to the recession are having in areas such as employees’ work/life balance, productivity and willingness to take risks,” the company said in a press release.

To address those concerns, most companies have already made or are planning to make additional changes to their reward and talent management programs, the survey said.

On the hiring front, Towers Watson said most U.S. companies are finding it relatively easy to attract or retain workers, with one major exception: critical-skill employees.

According to the survey, nearly six out of 10 U.S. companies (59%) reported problems attracting critical-skill employees this year. That is an increase from 52% last year and 28% in 2009. Forty-two percent also reported difficulty attracting top-performing employees.

Additionally, more than one-third (36%) reported difficulty retaining critical-skill employees, an increase from 31% last year and 16% in 2009. Overall, only one in 10 companies is having difficulty attracting or retaining employees generally.

Data source:, 10/13



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