Shocking New Trend: Job Satisfaction Does NOT Equal Retention
Posted by Eric Friedman
A shocking new trend is emerging and worrying employers everywhere: employee satisfaction and engagement does not necessarily lead to retention. Before, employers could rest easy knowing that having highly engaged employees meant having a happy, productive, and loyal workforce. Now, even employees who claim to be satisfied and engaged in their jobs still say they would leave for greener pastures.
According to a recent survey by HR consulting firm Mercer, 37 percent of the 3,000 workers polled said they were seriously considering leaving their jobs. That number has increased from 33 percent in 2011, but that’s not the real shocker. What’s shocking is that many of the people who said they were thinking about leaving are actually satisfied with their jobs, employers, benefits and other aspects of work:
- 48 percent said they strongly felt that they were paid fairly.
- 46 percent said they strongly believed they were given good opportunities for growth.
Among senior managers, 63 percent said they were seriously looking for other jobs, even though 90 percent said they were satisfied with their jobs.
With such troubling numbers, HR departments are scrambling to figure out how they can keep employees happy so they will stay. Like most things, retention in the age of “newer is better” will present its challenges. Companies have to rethink the ways they engage their workforce in order to improve retention. Here are some tips.
- Acknowledge the generational shift.
The survey results illustrate how a shifting workforce demographic plays a big role in the “happy but leaving” trend. Younger generations (Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z) are making up the majority of today’s workforce and they have different job expectations than their older counterparts. Refocusing priorities and engagement methods to appeal to these younger employees is crucial in the fight for retention.
- Engage them faster.
Since the current workforce is increasingly fluid, HR departments need to engage employees faster than before. Companies no longer have the luxury of taking their time with employees who will stay for 8, 10, or even 30 years. The onboarding, training, and development process must be much faster in order to maximize worker productivity in a shorter period of time.
- Seek the disengaged.
Not every employee is effectively engaged and satisfied. According to Patrick Tomlinson, North American Business Leader for Talent at Mercer” disengaged workers […] account for about a fifth of the overall workforce, according to our research.” These disengaged workers pose a risk to employee morale and productivity, so companies must seek to better engage with these workers to prevent their negative attitudes from infecting others.
- Commit, no matter what.
Although many employees will leave no matter what you do, their job satisfaction goes a long way to keeping them productive while they’re still at your company. Another plus is that even though they might leave, if they’re happy at your company, they’ll be more likely to recommend it to others seeking opportunities. You may have more turnover, but your recruiting will benefit from former employees who praise the workplace standards at your company.
If you’ve noticed increased job satisfaction yet decreasing retention in your company, you’re not alone. What are some ways you have managed this shocking new trend?
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Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.