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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Leaders Beware: Mass Exodus Looms

Workers are poised for a mass exodus in 2011. They are feeling increasingly restless and intend to leave in droves if opportunities open up in the job market, according to a recent poll we conducted of 1,400 workers. As many as 84% of the employees say they plan to look for new jobs in 2011, up from 60% reported in our survey a year ago. Only 5% now say they intend to remain in their current position.

While somewhat alarming, this finding is more about employee dissatisfaction and discontent than a measure of projected turnover. We view it as a barometer of trust in management or commitment to the job. Basically, it’s a workplace equivalent to opinion polling on whether or not ‘this country is moving in the right direction.’ Just as people are questioning their elected leaders in government, so too are workers wondering if their management is up to the challenge of renewed growth or developing a sound strategy moving forward.

The underlying factors contributing to employees’ backlash is most likely the prolonged recession, continued job market weakness along with disruptive economic and workforce changes. Employees’ trust has been seriously shaken and there is a general lack of confidence in leaders.

The discontent is widespread. But this does not mean an organization’s management is helpless and nor can it afford to ignore the problem. If the job market picks up a lot many employees are going to take advantage of it, and organizations stand to lose some of their top contributors. This is a wake-up call to management.

One proactive step management should take is to identify star performers and have open and constructive career discussions with them. High-value employees always have opportunities available to them. Know who they are and be sure to take care of them in ways that are meaningful and aligned with the businesses goals.

Do you know the commitment levels of your employees? Do you have a plan in place to retain your star performers?

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