Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Great Disconnect

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about competing in the coming war on talent. The post cited a article that noted the critical nature of talent retention and recruitment as the economy improves: “Companies will need to keep their best employees and recruit talented people in order to be competitive.” Unfortunately, it seems that in the past 18 months, companies still haven’t learned the lesson.

A recent USA Today article notes that “employee loyalty is at a three-year low, but many employers are precariously unaware of the morale meltdown.” While frustrated workers seek new opportunities (often secretly), employers naively think their employee loyalty is the same as it was three years ago.

Employers have taken their “eye off the ball” with regard to what drives employee satisfaction and loyalty. In cutting wages and demanding that their workers do more with less – to pick up the slack of their laid off colleagues – they have increased their employees’ stress levels. Forty percent of workers note that heavier workloads, unrealistic expectations and longer hours have created tremendous stress levels in their lives. A third are confident that they can find new jobs that match their experience and salary within the next 12 months.

The Forbes article 18 months ago, noted the disconnect between employers’ and employees’ perceptions with current job satisfaction. It cited surveys that indicated up to 65 percent of employees were looking for new jobs. Employers – once again ‘grossly out of touch’ – thought that only 37 percent of their workforce were seeking new work.

As the economy continues to improve, as employers look to enhance their competitive edge, one thing we keep hearing is that innovation will be key to sustained growth. Yet employers lament that they’ve had difficulty in attracting employees with critical skills. It’s ironic that these employers’ talent recruitment policies often screen out talented people. Company websites’ career sections that proclaim that unsolicited resumes will not be considered ignore possible candidates that can add tremendous value. HR screening policies that focus on specific keywords in resumes as evidence of qualifications, risk those candidates who don’t “game” the system. Recruiters and HR managers that don’t consider functional resumes, but only chronological resumes, do their clients and employers an incredible disservice in an effort to make their jobs easier.

I am amazed, these days, at the vitriol of the comments posted on recruiting and HR blogs by job seekers. They are fed up with the seemingly irrational process of recruitment and selection, which changes, not only from company to company, but also among different recruiters and HR managers.

As companies look to enhance their workforces; as they seek to improve competitiveness and reach new levels of innovation, they need to be clear with their recruitment staffs that they want the best employees they can obtain. They need to take a hard look at their current employees and ensure they retain the best of the lot. And recruiting and HR professionals need to advise their clients and employers on why it’s in their best interest to identify, recruit and retain high performers. As the subject matter experts in this field it’s their responsibility to ensure that their companies have the workforce to be competitive in today’s economy.

So, what are your thoughts?

Do you agree there’s a disconnect between employers perception of their workers’ loyalty and reality? Does your company get it?

Do you know of companies that do get it? Do their talent recruitment and retention policies reflect their understanding of what truly motivates their employees?

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