HR Officials Fretting about Job Turnover

December 15, 2006 ( - A new survey shows that HR officials are struggling with a growing number of worker departures.

A news report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said its poll, taken with, found that the number of voluntary resignations since January 1 has averaged 12% (the median was 8%) – a trend that, not surprisingly, drew an expression of concern from three-fourths of some 400 HR professionals who responded to the survey.

Non-managerial employees were more likely than managerial employees or executives to resign voluntarily from their current position if the economy and job market continue to improve, according to 71% of HR professionals. According to SHRM, a greater proportion of organizations are implementing new programs to better hang onto their employees in 2006 (49%) than did so in 2004 (35%).

Varying Concerns

On average, HR professionals perceived themselves as more concerned than senior management about the number of voluntary resignations their organizations had received since the beginning of 2006 (average of 2.95 for HR professionals compared with 2.60 for HR professionals’ impression of senior management’s level of concern). Nearly three-fourths of HR professionals (73%) indicated they were concerned (“somewhat concerned” and “very concerned”) about the voluntary resignations at their organizations, while 61% perceived senior management at their organizations to be concerned.

HR professionals’ impression of senior management’s average level of concern about voluntary resignations in 2006 was higher at large organizations (2.91) than at small and medium organizations (2.51 and 2.49, respectively).

Nonmanagement-level employees were most likely to voluntarily resign from their current position as the economy and the job market continued to improve, according to 71% of HR professionals. HR professionals expected far less voluntary resignations from middle management (14%) and did not expect executive-level staff to voluntarily resign.

Retention Strategies

Almost one-half (49%) of HR professionals reported that their organizations were implementing special retention processes as a direct result of continuing improvements in the job market/economy.

In 2006, the top three retention processes used to retain staff as a direct response to continuing improvements in the economy were:

  • promoting qualified employees (69%),
  • offering competitive merit increases/salary adjustments (68%) and
  • providing career development opportunities (68%)

The 2006 results were not significantly different from the 2004 or 2005 results.

Benefit “Keepers”

The most commonly reported benefits offered by employers to help keep employees from leaving their organizations were:

  • competitive salaries (55%),
  • bonuses (52%),
  • career development opportunities (45%), and
  • promotion of qualified employees (43%)

Asked about the effectiveness of specific retention strategies, the three most effective retention strategies, as perceived by employees and HR professionals, were:

  • career development opportunities (52% of employees, 46% of HR professionals),
  • competitive salary (50% of employees, 59% of HR professionals), and
  • flexible work schedules (29% of employees, 47% of HR professionals).

Reasons for Leaving

Employees and HR professionals agreed on three of the top four reasons employees left their organizations:

  • better compensation elsewhere (30% of employees, 40% of HR professionals),
  • career opportunity elsewhere (27% of employees, 48% of HR professionals), and
  • dissatisfaction with potential for career development at current organization (21% of employees, 29% of HR professionals).

More than one-quarter (27%) of employees stated that being ready for a new experience was an important reason to begin or increase the intensity of their job search. However, only 13% of HR professionals indicated this as a reason that employees chose to leave their organizations.

Overall, only 14% of HR professionals indicated that employees voluntarily left their organizations due to a conflict with supervisors and 9% reported employees’ return to school as a reason, yet respondents in the nonprofit sector were more likely to indicate these as reasons compared with HR professionals from the privately owned for-profit sector. Retirement was cited by HR professionals in the government sector as a reason employees left their organizations more frequently than any other sector (publicly owned for-profit, privately owned for-profit

and nonprofit organizations), although relatively few HR professionals overall (8%) indicated this as an explanation. Sixteen percent of HR professionals overall cited poor management as a reason employees left their organizations.

The report is here .