The Loop

Retention and Attraction: Cherish or Perish

Filed under: Attraction & Retention

With the unemployment rate continuing to drop, we should recognize that more jobs coming onto the market is not just good news for people who have been without jobs for a while. It's also a boon for people who've held on to their jobs throughout the recession and recovery, but would like very much to move on now.

For this reason, more jobs could mean even more job churn than already exists.

In 2013, 59% of companies were more concerned about retaining talent than anything else. But regardless of the impact of the economy, it seems the nature of the employment landscape may have changed permanently. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than two million Americans voluntarily quit their jobs every month.

There are three general categories of employees. First, mature workers who typically have the most experience in their chosen profession. Once they're past mid-career, they may be less inclined to "job hop" and settle in to finish their career with one employer. However, if they were mid-career during the recession and have not had the chance to shop around for the employer they want to settle down with, companies may find their oldest and most experienced workers looking for other options in the next few years. And since many employers have complained that they're not seeing enough qualified candidates, mature workers could find themselves seeking jobs from a position of strength.

Next, mid-career employees are often the ones you see moving around more, jockeying for their best opportunity and the experience they may lack to round out their career. However, one of the lessons taught by the recent recession is not to take your job for granted. Those who have been well-taken care of and promoted by their employers during this difficult economic period may be more loyal to their current companies. Those who have not felt the love may be itching to move on – poised to enjoy coveted prospects in the job market as well.

Third, those with the least amount of experience tend to job churn the most. In fact, a 2013 survey revealed that employees between the ages of 18 and 34 – affectionately known as "millennials" because they came of age in the new millennium – tend to work jobs in less than one-year increments. This high turnover rate costs employers an estimated $15,000 to $25,000 per employee in recruiting and replacement expenditures.

Part of this new trend in job churning is due to a greater emphasis on achieving work-life balance, a focus driven by the younger generation. Part of it may be due to having grown up as an entitled generation – believing they are entitled to both a rich personal life and a lucrative career. Another influence may be that they have witnessed their parents' struggles, working long and hard in their careers, juggling work and family, only to get laid off or disillusioned by the work environment of recent years.

A PwC survey found that 15% of male and 21% of female millennial employees would take a pay cut and fewer promotions in exchange for working fewer hours. Overall, millennials appear willing to get more education, start a new business, switch jobs frequently, and even move back home with their parents to help save money in pursuit of a more fulfilling career and lifestyle by the time they reach their parents' age.

Software Engineering Manager Michael Lopp, who wrote Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager, says that the key to attracting and retaining talent boils down to the consistent willingness to convey three simple words: "We want you." He believes it's a manager's full-time job to ensure that top talent always feels cherished and never taken for granted. In his words: "Woo them or lose them."

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