Something feared by most HRDs and Heads of Talent has been confirmed recently, following a piece of research conducted by FreshMinds Talent on behalf of HR magazine, predicting a mass exodus of talent after the recession.
Notwithstanding the fact that we could have over 3 million people unemployed by then (I’ll come back to that), it seems according to the research that nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24%) are dissatisfied with their jobs and for 64% the recession made them think about moving. These stats were supported by another piece of research this time by financial recruitment specialist Parkside, which found 26% of accountants will ‘definitely’ move after the market improves.
On the surface, this is worrying news indeed, and to some extent reflects what happened after the 1990/1992 recession (something that many of my colleagues, sadly unlike me, are too young to remember).
And I guess it makes sense. When the market is buoyant, everything is on the up: it’s party time for everyone. Bonuses get paid, training takes place, investment happens. And if you do decide that the grass is greener somewhere else, well, everyone’s desperate for talent, aren’t they? It’s easy to get a great job somewhere else.
But in a declining market, things don’t look quite so good. Training budgets get reined in or cancelled. Investment stops. And in most cases, even bonuses don’t get paid. And you can’t just up and leave, because there’s nowhere to go. So people start to feel trapped – and think about moving on as quickly as they can.
This time, it might be different.
Unemployment in the UK currently stands at 2.47 million and, while most are predicting some growth in the economy this year or early in 2010, continued downsizing within the commercial and industrial sectors coupled to the so-called ‘public sector recession’ means that many do now agree that unemployment will hit 3 million in 2010.
And how that affects the predicted talent exodus remains to be seen.
The Work Foundation believes that the broader job market won’t necessarily affect the exodus. It’s Managing Director, Stephen Bevan argues that “Unemployment is still going up and it will take longer for the job market to recover than the economy. So firms will not see any real exodus for a year or 18 months.” But he adds that “Talented employees have more labour market power, so if they want to change jobs, they will experience demand however the job market is faring.”
One thing is certain. If employers want to stem the predicted flow of talent leaving their organisations, they are going to need robust strategies in place to do that. And that probably means looking at (and investing in) how they develop, manage and engage with their staff. As Stephen Bevan says: “Pay will not improve loyalty. Golden handcuffs are not going to work now”.
The challenge for employers, of course, will be to reconcile the need to make that investment (into areas such as L&D, communications and engagement, the employer brand and managing their reputation – both internally and externally) against the challenging trading and budgeting conditions that exist now. The question many HRDs will I suspect need to ask their CFOs will be: can we afford not to?
Filed under: Employee engagement & communications, Employer branding & reputation management, Talent management Tagged: | employer branding, reputation management, talent, talent acquisition, talent retention