• United States
Managing Editor, Network World Fusion

Hiring on the upswing

Feb 18, 20033 mins
Data Center

* Why a hiring recovery could mean bad news for you

In a true good news/bad news format, business futurist Roger Herman says by the middle of this year, many more employers will be hiring. This is the good news. More hiring means more profitability, which represents a stronger economy and the appearance of this “recovery” we keep hearing about, but not experiencing.

Yet the bad news for you is that when employers start hiring, they’re going to come gunning for your top talent. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it? No matter the company, it’s never the poor performers who leave for greener pastures. Nope, they usually put down roots and hope you’re not paying attention and documenting their performance – or lack thereof. Traditionally it’s the employees whom you want to keep forever who leave, seeking more challenges and opportunity. And, to make matters worse, you’re spending all your time working with the poor performers at the expense of the good ones, you’re basically pushing them out the door.

Here you are, thinking you’re doing the right thing by concentrating on those who need your help, not realizing that your top performers need your coaching just as much. It’s enough to make your head spin. Herman cites recent studies that suggest the majority of U.S. workers are unhappy with their jobs, and more than one-third are “seat warmers,” working hardest not for your company, but for the eventual goal of finding a new job.

Now is the time to ensure you don’t lose your top talent when the economy picks up. That statement runs against initial thoughts on the subject, as you would think with today’s unemployment people would just be happy with the jobs they have. And while few folks would be likely to simply up and quit today, that doesn’t mean they would submit a letter of resignation when the right opportunity arises. They may be trapped in their job now, but they won’t be forever.

Bottom line: Now is the most important time for employee retention. You need to ensure your staffers are challenged and happy with their jobs so they will choose to stay when presented with alternatives.

Elizabeth Weinstein, manager of Marketing at Work/Life Benefits, wants you to consider the following five questions. They will tell you how prepared you are to manage employee attrition and the loss of institutional knowledge should turnover occur:

* Do you know what your top performers value about you as an employer?

* What is the cost of losing an employee whom you need to keep?

* Do you know who is leaving after childbirth?

* Have you assessed what skills and corporate memory are evaporating with retirees?

* Can you name what benefits at your company convince employees to stay longer and work harder?