Next Generation Employers: Retain to Gain.

23107As employers grapple with an increasingly competitive talent pool, the most innovative companies are redefining their human resources practices to differentiate themselves and rise to the surface in today’s dynamic job market. In a recent study of 225 human resource managers and more than 2,000 employed adults, leading staffing company Spherion has defined these highly adaptive or “emergent” employers as those that consider retention drivers critical for the bottom line of their business. The study was conducted from May 10 – July 16, 2012 by Harris Interactive on behalf of Spherion.

“Emergent companies are the next generation employers, and they are poised to steadily gain influence and dominate in our volatile employment situation,” said Sandy Mazur, Division President, Franchise & License, Spherion Corporation. “Not only do these organizations spend significant time and resources investing in the well-being and development of their employees, but they do so in a very deliberate way. We all know that worker ideals, motivations and expectations are changing with the economy and job market. So a key part of being emergent is the ability to constantly evolve to meet changing views and demographics.”

According to the Emerging Workforce Study, only 13 percent of workers believe their company has put in more effort to retain them compared to previous years. Instead, employers are more focused on recruitment efforts. This narrow line-of-sight can lead to rapid turnover as employees feel overlooked and disengaged, which can cause employers to lose the talent they fought so hard to win. Findings from the study point to three best practices for companies focused on adopting “emergent” or next generation practices for not only retaining but ensuring employees are engaged, motivated and productive.

ADVANCE: Emergent companies most likely to offer career development programs

The Emergent Workforce Study revealed only 28 percent of workers are extremely or very satisfied with their current growth and earnings potential, and less than a third (29 percent) strongly agree that they have a clear understanding of the opportunities for advancement that exist at their current organizations. Emergent employers appear to be more attuned to harnessing workers’ hunger for growth and learning by offering robust career development and training programs.

In fact, the study found that compared to traditional employers, emergent companies are:

Significantly more likely to offer tuition assistance (56% traditional vs. 81% emergent)

Nearly twice as likely to offer online career development tools (33% traditional vs. 64% emergent)

Nearly twice as likely to offer mentoring (49% traditional vs. 84% emergent)

Twice as likely to offer individual career paths (36% traditional vs. 76% emergent)

These innovative employers listen to their workers’ requests for career development and offer programs that support their growth and earnings potential, providing significantly more than traditional employers. In so doing, emergent companies also create a competitive edge in the market.

ACCOMODATE: Emergent employers are more likely to offer formal work/life balance programs than traditional companies
With the recession and mass layoffs fresh in American memories, U.S. workers are realigning their value systems and placing greater importance on the balance between their jobs and personal lives – despite the challenging workloads and demanding schedules that have remained constant throughout the past several years. A vast majority (87 percent) of workers say work/life balance and fulfillment are top career priorities and 93 percent ranked work/life balance programs as the most attractive job characteristic. Even so, the disconnect between employers and employees around this topic continues to widen.

Emergent employers are not only aware of the positive impact work/life balance programs have had on worker satisfaction, productivity and retention; they are the ones driving this movement forward with formal, prescriptive initiatives and inventive organizational strategies.

More than half (53 percent) of emergent companies offer flex time, compared to just seven percent of traditional employers

Emergent employers are nearly six times as likely than traditional employers to offer telecommuting options (47% vs. 8%, respectively)

Thirty-five percent of emergent companies offer paid time off for community service; only 12 percent of traditional employers do the same

One-in-four emergent employers (25%) offer sabbaticals, compared to just four percent (less than 1-in-10) of traditional companies

ASSOCIATE: Emergent companies are nearly twice as likely as traditional employers to use most social media efforts
The days of blacklisted social media sites are in the past for many companies, and emergent employers are ahead of the curve in this arena. They not only allow employees to access social media pages at work, but they use these platforms to engage and associate with their workers. These organizational leaders are aware that using social media at work can increase job satisfaction, and even enhance productivity. It also fosters a sense of camaraderie between employer and employee and can create internal brand ambassadors.

According to the Emerging Workforce Study:

Thirty-one percent of American workers rate a company who encourages open and honest communication via online outlets as very/extremely important

Workers who have high job satisfaction are four times as likely to be highly satisfied with their companies’ efforts at encouraging open and honest communication via online outlets than those with low job satisfaction

Nearly half (47 percent) of workers strongly agree/agree that “when considering new employment, a company’s online reputation will be equally important as the offer I am given.” Fifty-five percent of Gen Y workers feel the same

Forty-seven percent of Gen Y workers agree that having access to social media sites and tools allows them to be more productive at work

Nearly 8-in-10 emergent companies (78%) use LinkedIn, compared to less than half of traditional companies (42%)

Sixty-eight percent of emergent employers use Facebook, compared to just half of traditional (53%)

Emerging employers are also twice as likely as traditional employers to have a social networking strategy in place versus simply having a presence (61% vs. 30%, respectively), and they are nearly twice as likely to view it as successful (46% vs. 25%, respectively). Emergent employers leverage these platforms as an opportunity to connect with their existing employees and build brand ambassadors internally and externally.

“There are many long-term business benefits for employers who evolve their employee outlook and engagement to meet the changing needs of their workforce,” continued Mazur. “As this becomes increasingly critical for business success, we are pleased that our study reveals growth in emergent companies from 13 percent in 2007 to 19 percent today. The talent war is not going away, and retaining top talent will continue to be a winning strategy.”

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