Organisations need to be mindful of the risk of talent drain.

Organisations need to be mindful of the risk of talent drain and losing good employees with in-depth organisational knowledge.

New evidence shows that employers face the loss of valuable talent even among those most satisfied with their jobs. The potential loss of senior management is particularly acute.

To help mitigate the risk of this potential talent drain, many organisations should be developing an approach to staff retention and recruitment that reflects a more open commitment to employee health, wealth and career pathways, as well as having a clear and comprehensive succession planning strategy.

Inside Employees’ Minds is a study of 4,000 employees that captures employee views on everything from pay and benefits to career development, engagement, leadership and culture. The survey includes an analysis allowing for the identification of which value proposition elements are highly regarded by employees, and then looks at those findings by various workforce demographics.

The data showed that nearly two in five workers (37 percent) were seriously considering leaving their job – and that includes many workers who are very satisfied with their jobs and organisations.

For example, 46 percent of those considering leaving strongly agree that they have sufficient opportunity for growth and development, while 48 percent strongly agree that they are paid fairly given their performance and contributions.

For senior managers, the statistics are even more dramatic. Three out of five (63 percent) are considering looking for a new job, despite high levels of satisfaction with their jobs (93 percent) and organisations (94 percent). 

For many companies, even the potential threat of a strategic leadership void caused by such an exit can be severe. It’s an engagement paradox that calls for an emphasis on programs to ensure that robust knowledge transfer is in place for new employees, with an increased emphasis on succession planning farther down the organisation.

Not surprisingly, there’s a divide between views of older and younger workers. Across all age groups base pay was the most important element of their job, but younger workers – the millennials aged 18 to 34 – cared more about flexible work schedules and career opportunity than did older workers.

Clearly, employers can’t offer one-size-fits-all rewards and expect everyone to be happy.

It’s also important to acknowledge that not all millennials share the same attitudes. Some may be inspired to stay if they are engaged by their organisation’s vision, values, and workplace opportunities.

But with millennials and Gen Xers (the latter group ranging in age from 34 to 50) now representing the dominant share of the workforce, their preferences and behaviours are driving things, especially the happy-but-leaving trend, more than ever. This calls for action on the part of HR leadership, a close examination not only of value propositions, but also a commitment to change to ensure future success and a sustainable workforce.

An extra focus on succession planning and leadership development must go hand in hand with this redefinition, with a focus on the population right below the senior management level.

The messaging of this new employer value proposition is to help with career-building, no matter where it leads. It also includes maintaining a strong connection to employees who move on to other organisations, given the reasonable prospect that they will be your best source of external talent after developing their careers elsewhere.

To face down the risk of losing top talent, organisations must do more than rely on the traditional belief that today’s happy employees will be tomorrow’s stalwarts.

Source: Inside Employees’ Minds, a survey by Mercer, a global consulting leader helping clients around the world advance the health, wealth and careers of their most vital asset – their people.