Downside of an improving economy? Losing talented staff

Greater confidence in the job market gives employees plenty of bargaining power.

The improving economy is giving employees greater leverage while creating a talent retention problem for employers. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Managers can think of this week’s economic news as a silver cloud with a dark lining.

On Thursday, July 2, the Department of Labor reported that the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in June. The Labor Department also reported the national unemployment rate dipped to 5.3 percent, its lowest level in seven years.

On the same day, career company Glassdoor released its most recent “Employee Confidence Survey’’ which found that more than half of employees surveyed (52 percent) – including those self-employed – said they were confident they could find a new job within the next six months. This is the first time since the first fiscal quarter of 2009 that a majority of employees expressed confidence in the ability land a new job in a short period of time.

Don’t get caught flat-footed

While these figures indicate the economic recovery is gaining momentum, the trend also presents a different challenge to human resources leaders and managers: retaining staff.

“Bosses should take notice,’’ said Rusty Rueff, a career and workplace expert for Glassdoor. “For the first time in six years you’ve got a workforce where there is a majority with pay expectations at an all-time high. Those are indicators that I better be on my toes to retain and attract the best talent.’’

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Glassdoor’s report also found 47 percent of surveyed employees expect a pay raise in the next year. Another 51 percent believe their company’s business outlook will improve in the next six months.


This translates to more employees with higher expectations, something that has not been seen since the days of the Great Recession, said Rueff. Hiring managers who fail to catch on may lose employees to other companies.

“What the HR leaders and hiring manager are feeling is they’ve got employees who know they have other options,’’ said Reuff. “When they have other options, it means you have to react and react to [employees] differently.’’

Beyond the paycheck

Offering employees recognition is a key way to keeping good people on a company’s payroll, said Eric Mosley, chief executive officer of Southborough-based Globoforce. Globoforce works with companies to build employee recognition programs and develop company cultures. Giving recognition to employees helps fulfill a “basic psychological need’’ said Mosley.

“The number one reason people become disengaged is because their work isn’t appreciated,’’ Mosley told in a phone interview. “If you have a culture where employee work is appreciated by managers, peers, and friends, you’ll tap into that core need.’’

At the end of the day, Mosley believes employees want their bosses to give them the respect they think they deserve.

“When you cater to people as human beings, you will find employees will be content and happier in jobs, and less likely to have that roving eye looking for other jobs,’’ said Mosley.

Globoforce just released its own report that found retention and turnover surpassed employee engagement as the biggest challenge facing today’s HR professionals.

“Management needs to look for ways to foster recognition and good work by hosting social events and facilitating interactions,’’ said Mosley.


It’s also important for companies to make sure they have the right decision-makers in place.

“People leave managers, not companies,’’ said Mosley. “Making sure your managers are well-trained can help retention statistics.’’

“We’re in a war for talent, so trying to retain the best employees is certainly getting harder every year,’’ he said.

Globoforce and other economic experts predict a “war for talent’’ will occur in the next few years as more and more baby boomers retire and the demand for skilled workers rises at a rate that outpaces supply. Analysts predict the technology and manufacturing sectors in particular will feel the brunt of the talent drain.

For employees, these statistics can serve as a motivator to either demand more from a current employer or to look elsewhere for better opportunities.

“It’s a great time to be a job-seeker,’’ said Reuff. “The better the job market and the more confident employees get, the more leverage they get.’’

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