Last week we shared some key findings from the Employee Outlook: Autumn 2013 survey, conducted by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) in partnership with Halogen Software.
Earlier today, I presented the main findings of the survey with Claire McCartney, Research Adviser at the CIPD and the author of the Employee Outlook report. Our presentation delves into what organisations can do to address some of the engagement and retention challenges the survey uncovered.
I collaborated with Claire to create this Q&A post to share some of what we discuss in the presentation. Here are Claire’s responses.
1. How might the economic changes be impacting talent mobility?
The CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey of almost 3,000 shows that job seeking intentions have reached a two year high with nearly 1 in 4 (24%) currently seeking new opportunities and this is broadly consistent across sectors. It appears that after years of labor market stagnation, talent is once again on the move.
There seems to be a decline in fear around job security as the economic downturn begins to lessen – fewer employees report that their organisation is planning to make redundancies and fewer report their organisations are implementing recruitment freezes.
Overall, much of the recent positive press coverage in the UK around the slight decrease in unemployment and growth in GDP appears to be boosting employee confidence levels, with perceptions that there are better opportunities out there once again in the labor market.
2. What do you see as intersections of the findings related to talent on the move and the findings regarding talent activities like performance management and career development?
The survey shows that 3 in 5 employees believe that progression in their job is important to them. If employees aren’t getting the progression opportunities that they desire within their current organisation then they are likely to look elsewhere for progression opportunities, particularly as confidence levels have improved about the opportunities available in the labor market.
We were concerned to see that over a quarter (27%) of employees reported that they had never had a performance appraisal. That included employees who had been with their organisation for a considerable amount of time.
Performance appraisals if carried out in an effective and meaningful way are a great mechanism for discussing an individual’s development needs and future progression opportunities so this appears to be a worrying gap for a number of organisations.
3. The survey results show that consultation of employees by senior managers on important decisions remains poor. Since previous Employee Outlook data suggests trust in senior leaders has a direct impact on advocacy, job satisfaction and turnover intention, how important is it that senior leaders consult more consistently with employees?
We know from our research into trust that frequent open and honest communication and opportunities for employee voice and consultation help to foster trust relationships at work. We also know that employees’ perceive their senior leaders as being poor at consulting them on important decisions.
Clearly, senior leaders will struggle to consult employees on every decision they make but they need to try to change their working style to accommodate employee feedback and clearly communicate when they are able to act on employee feedback and when they are not and the reasons behind that.
It is also important for senior leaders to operate in a way that reflects the organisation’s vision and values and be consistent – ‘do what they say they will.’ They also need to try to reduce the distance between employees and themselves by being more visible locally in a face to face capacity or if that is difficult to clearly delegate their leadership down.
They need to show that they trust employees at all levels and in particular that they trust junior and middle managers to make decisions and communicate important messages to employees on the front line.
4. What recommendations do you have for HR Practitioners about improving their organization’s talent attraction and retention strategies?
Overall the findings from the CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook should signal a warning to employers to up their game when it comes to retaining key talent. Firstly and importantly HR practitioners need to ensure that their line managers have good people management skills.
They need to encourage line managers to have ongoing discussions with employees regarding development and progression opportunities and ensure that they are providing them with meaningful feedback and recognition regarding their performance.
When it comes to communication, HR need to support senior leaders to ‘kill the spin,’ communicate the good and the bad and build in mechanisms which provide opportunities for employee consultation and contribution where possible. This should help to foster trusting relations.
Senior leaders, line managers and employees need to work together to create an open work environment and culture where everyone feels that they are able to contribute their best. All of these practices should help to improve work and working lives and support successful businesses, economies and society – something that we are very passionate about at the CIPD.
Excellent people management skills needed
The bottom line here is that organisations who want to keep top talent need to assess how well their talent management programs are addressing employee needs and the needs of the organisation. How does your organisation’s people management practices stack up?
About Claire McCartney
Claire joined the CIPD in 2008 as Adviser, Resourcing and Talent Planning. She is responsible for research exploring different aspects of effective talent management strategies and manages the Institute’s Resourcing and Talent Forum. She also co-manages CIPD’s Employee Outlook research.