Eight months ago I was asked by an organization to find out what was causing the most stress for their managers and to come up with a strategy to resolve it. During the first five minutes of my first meeting with the mid and upper level managers, it was clear. They were scared. They were staying up at night. They were afraid of losing their employees.
They’re right to be scared. Talent is walking out the door. How do I know? I get the calls. Employees who are not happy at their current jobs are contacting people like me who have a specialty in career development and transition to help them work on their job search strategies and polish their interviewing skills in the evenings and on the weekends.
The same employees who are doing their jobs, who appear happy and who may even be “exceeding expectations”, are the same ones who are looking for the next best opportunity.
A couple of weeks ago, I was conducting a leadership development program for a well known organization in South Florida and a 24 year old IT manager came up to me at the break. “Debbie, how can I earn the respect of my Baby Boomer staff. They keep telling me I remind them of their son.”
He is thinking of leaving. After 3 years in a technical position in which he proved his skills, knowledge, talents and abilities, he was promoted. Yet he feels he cannot earn the respect of his staff because of the generational difference.
This is a real world challenge!
Just last week, a manager waited for me after my workshop was over to ask me a personal question. She said: “My skills and talents are not being acknowledged here. I was hired to do a certain job. I have had no guidance on the direction I am to take my department. I have not been given any of the tools or resources with which to do my job and when I ask my Director for his time to discuss this, he says that I should put all of my concerns in an email and he will review them. What should I do – I am thinking of leaving.”
In the close to 25 years of working both in internal Learning and Development and Human Resources positions and as President of DBR Career Service, Inc., some of these questions have always popped up. What is amazing to me now is the frequency with which they are being asked. People are speaking with me about their workplace challenges before I conduct a workshop, during the workshop and afterwards. The difference is that the level of dissatisfaction now, in 2007, is even greater and more importantly, that it comes from both new and more seasoned employees.
Why is this?
First, this is the first time U.S. history that we have four generations in the workforce simultaneously. We have Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) overseeing Generation Y or Millennials (born sometime after 1981). Generation X’s 3 top things they want in a job are positive relationships with colleagues, interesting work and continuous learning. (http://wisework.com). We have Generation Y overseeing Baby Boomers and Traditionalists (Born 1922 – 1945) who could be the same age as their grandparents.
Second, about 76% of our workforce are modestly engaged in their work. These employees have their eye on the exit. Fully Engaged employees are 87% more likely to stay. (Corporate Executive Board, 2004)
Third, more than ever before, employees need to know how their jobs connect with and to the organizational strategy.
Fourth, the relationship between employees and managers is the most important engagement factor and yet it shows up as the #1 reason people leave their jobs.
It is only going to get worse. Here’s why:
• The number of U.S. workers between 35 and 44 will decline by 2010. Just imagine what will your applicant pool look like?
• 40% of the U.S. labor force is eligible for retirement by 2010. That’s an enormous brain drain.
• Generation X’s 3 top things they want in a job are positive relationships with colleagues, interesting work and continuous learning.(http://wisework.com). What happens if they don’t get it? They leave.
• Generation Y (a.k.a. The Millennials) are the fastest growing segment of the workforce and they look for reasons to leave rather than stay. Imagine the impact on your retention? (Florida State University 2006 Survey 2006, Wayne A. Hochwarter)
You are on the frontline of all of these challenges. You can provide the solutions. Your guidance and relationship building expertise, trust, business acumen and experience combine to provide what it takes to engage and retain employees: You “Tap their Talent”.
By tapping your employees’ talents, you identify the strengths, knowledge, talents, abilities and passions that make them tick. You can make a difference in whether employees stay or leave.
Debbie Benami-Rahm, M.S., President of DBR Career Services, works with organizations to provide selection and employee engagement programs to maximize productivity and increase retention. She also works with individuals in career transition. She is the author of "Uncover the Hidden Applicant," an interviewing resource guide, and creator of the HR² Method for Engaging and Retaining Employees. Debbie can be reached at: Debbie@DBRcareerservices.com. For more information, please visit http://www.DBRcareerservices.com
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