Thursday, May 14, 2009

Employees more engaged, hunkered down

In a recent survey by Towers Perrin, employees are more engaged than they were three months ago. This is a surprising stat considering the cut backs and layoffs and fear of more job losses.

On the other hand, if you look further into the data, you will find stats that seem more in line with what you’d expect. The number of employees “who felt top management provides good leadership fell seven percentage points, to 50% from 57%. Only 63% felt their management gave a clear sense of direction. That is down from 71% the quarter before.”

It sounds to me like employee engagement is up because people want to keep their job in a tough economy not because they are more into their current work, manager or company. Employees seem to be hunkered down and do not want to look for another job.

What will happen when the economy turns around and companies hire again? The economy will recover and job growth will increase at some point in the future.

Companies should be asking themselves what they are doing to retain employees when the economy turns around. They should be asking that now because before they know it, employees will begin to leave for better jobs

I spoke to an HR manager friend of mine, who was promised a promotion to senior manager 18 months ago when business was good. When times turned bad, the promotion was put off indefinitely. Although my friend understands the reasons for it, she still has a sour taste in her mouth. Wouldn’t you?

What is the company doing to retain her? Her company should have everyone who was close to a promotion on a watch list. There should be retention activities targeted at these high-potential employees now, before they leave. In a few months, it will be too late.

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