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Studies More Workers Look to Switch Jobs

The risk of employee defection is rising, according to studies from MetLife and Salary.com. But the two reports offer different lesson on how employers can retain talent.

February 22, 2006
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The risk of employee defection is rising, according to studies from MetLife and Salary.com released in late January. But the two reports contain different lessons for how employers can hang on to talent.

Insurer MetLife’s annual Employee Benefits Trend Study finds that employees’ top consideration when deciding to join or remain with an employer is "the quality of co-worker and/or customer relationships," followed by the opportunity for work/life balance and "working for an organization whose purpose/mission I agree with."

Compensation research firm Salary.com, meanwhile, finds that inadequate compensation is the top reason dissatisfied employees cite for leaving. No opportunity for advancement is second, followed by no recognition for work, according to the company’s 2005-2006 Employee Satisfaction and Retention Survey.

MetLife’s report polled some 1,200 employees and 1,500 company executives. Salary.com’s study involved roughly 350 company representatives and 15,000 individuals.

Salary.com finds that it costs employers more to replace employees than it would to keep them. On average, HR professionals estimate that turnover costs about 27 percent of the annual salary of the person being replaced, but most employees say they could be persuaded to stay in their current job for another year for as little as 10 percent to 15 percent extra pay annually, according to the study. Meanwhile, Salary.com finds that about one-third of employers never make counteroffers.

Both reports point to increased job hopping. According to Salary.com, 65 percent of employee respondents plan to look for a new job in the next three months. What’s more, the percentage of employees who describe themselves as "very likely" to leave their current job increased more than 50 percent in the past year, to 38 percent of employees, Salary.com reports.

According to MetLife, 22 percent of all employees changed jobs over the past 18 months, up from 17 percent in 2004 and 16 percent in 2003. Among young families with children under 6, the churn is even greater, according to MetLife: 31 percent of employees in this "life stage" report a change of employer over the past 18 months, up from 26 percent in 2004 and 14 percent in 2003.

"To retain top talent in today’s competitive job market, employers need to do more than loosen their purse strings," Maria Morris, MetLife executive vice president for institutional business, said in a statement. "They must create a work environment that reflects their employees’ life-stage needs and values.

"As the demand for experienced knowledge workers intensifies, employers need to understand what motivates--and inspires the loyalty of--today’s high-performing employees. In most cases, it’s not the corner office or a large paycheck, but rather, the opportunity to work for a company that fosters strong workplace relationships and inspires a sense of balance and/or purpose."

Ed Frauenheim

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