Is Loyalty Becoming an Old-Fashioned Value? The Ongoing War to Retain Qualified Candidates

Human resources staffing agencies

While it may seem like even the most qualitative aspects of business management and employee retention can be quantified and analyzed, larger firms still grapple with employee retention. Obviously, there are financial rewards for companies that can recruit qualified employees who remain with the firm on a long-term basis: experienced employees spend less time on crisis management and more time on building client relationships. However, more than half of all organizations in a recent study reported that talent acquisition and employee retention is a “problem.”

What are the first steps toward structuring a solution? Team leaders and human resources executive search firms are more than passingly familiar with the — rather discouraging — statistics. More than 20% of all newly-hired employees choose to leave their positions within the first six weeks. Perhaps they are asked to onboard too quickly? Any new job has an inescapable learning curve that could continue for up to 12 months, depending upon the complexity of the position. Candidates with management experience may perform well on interpersonal tasks but may struggle to learn proprietary software.

Conversely, employees who excel at technical tasks may not feel comfortable joining a new team as a manager. Certainly, co-workers develop a synergy after many years together, but executive search consultants are aware of the fine balance that must be struck for an employee to excel in a new position. A structured introduction to new responsibilities does increase the likelihood of new employee retention, and in an economy where the cost of having to replace an employee can be more than their yearly salary, companies have extensive motivation to strike the perfect balance.

Executive search consultants also know that the shift toward
“work from home” positions has had a profound effect on the workforce. There is a new generation of employees who expect job flexibility, the ability to telecommute, and attractive healthcare options. They have extensive technical skills, and may be developed into the next generation of management and leaders. They are not intimidated by the thought of managing older workers, and they may have insights into process excellence that stem from being comfortable and experienced with technology.

There is also, however, an existing layer of upper management that has a different type of experience. They may have started working in their current field well before the subject was offered at universities: they have grown with a rapidly-changing field for years or even decades, and where they may be more cautious about interfacing with new technology, they tend to be more experienced in client care and special project management.

Restructuring hiring guidelines to allow for the placement of both types of workers is highly advisable, and their skill sets tend to complement one another. Teams may function better with more than one leader, and some slight rotation of responsibilities among co-workers remains a viable form of skill-building. Employees of every experience level consistently report that they prefer to work for companies where their ideas are heard and their skills are respected, and executive search consultants do recruit with an eye toward employee temperament and existing group dynamics.

Some companies look to employee morale and other outreach programs as a solution to the problem of employee retention: in-house competitions, charitable giving programs, and job shadowing programs for existing employees can all help combat ennui, but the fact remains that job seekers are more fickle than ever before. More than 2.5 million Americans voluntarily switched their places of employment last year, a figure that seems much more menacing when placed in context: in two years, the number of American workers who resigned their positions increased by more than 25%.

So the battle for employee retention continues, and companies that partner with executive search consultants are committed to providing talented candidates the opportunity to exceed expectations. However, businesses that cannot retain qualified candidates may find themselves playing an extended game of catch-up against more experienced and innovative teams.

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