HR Responds to the Economy and Labor Market (Part 1) December 15, 2010


Occasionally, a study is so important that we devote two weeks and extend the length of The Herman Trend Alert to cover these results. This week, we offer you part one of the highlights from the 2010 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study.

First and not surprising to us, "employers report[ed] difficulty attracting and retaining top talent". Employers' experiences with attraction and retention were related to differences in the business climate. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents reported having problems attracting critical-skill employees. However the proportion varied significantly from a high of about 80 percent in Asia and Brazil to around 50 percent in the United States, Spain, and Ireland.

Second, it is always valuable to see the disparity between employer and employee views of "reasons to join a firm". In ranked order of importance (most to least), the reasons employees gave were competitive base pay, challenging work, and convenient, and opportunities for career advancement.

On the other hand the ranking from employers was somewhat different. They agreed that most important (these days) was competitive base pay, however they followed with reputation of the organization as a great place to work, challenging work, and business/industry of the organization.

The fact that "opportunities to learn new skills" does not even appear of the employees' view is very interesting. What we now see is employees' impatience to have career advancement without learning the new skills they may need. It is also noteworthy that "challenging (meaningful) work" appears second or third on both lists. Moreover, for employees, convenient work location and flexible schedule trump "the business/industry of the organization" and "financial health of the organization". Thus, candidates are increasingly likely to be influenced by job offers that include a (better) pension, greater job security, better work/life balance, and more flexible work arrangements.

The "reasons to stay" were a bit different from the "reasons to join": While both groups agree that compensation and advancement opportunities are the important factors in both attracting and retaining employees, employers underestimated the importance of employee security and well-being. Both now and in retirement, these are two critical factors for employees when they evaluate whether or not to leave their current employer. As we forecast more than a decade ago, many employees feel more responsible for managing their careers and retirement.

Employers take note: these attitudes will affect your ability to attract and retain in the months and years to come.

Herman Trend Alerts
Written by Joyce Gioia, CSP
Strategic Business Futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker.


Joyce Gioia is a Strategic Business Futurist concentrating on workforce and workplace trends. Joyce is President and CEO of The Herman Group, a firm serving a wide range corporate, trade association and governmental clients on an international basis.

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