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Turnover isn’t just a trucking problem

July 29, 2014
While it’s certainly gratifying to witness mainstream media outlets waking up to the potential widespread consequences of the growing truck driver shortage here in the U.S. (go here and here to see what I mean) the problems associated with finding and keeping skilled workers for the long-term is not limited to just the motor carrier industry.

Take for example the recent Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey, a study of 1,637 companies globally – including 337 from the U.S. – that determined that while there has been an uptick in labor market activity, recruiting and retaining employees with desired skill sets is becoming harder than ever.

Globally, according to the Towers Watson poll, nearly half of employers (48%) said hiring activity has increased compared with last year and for 15%, hiring has jumped significantly. Yet at the same time more than one-third (35%) indicated that turnover was rising with nearly two in three respondents experiencing problems attracting top performers (65%) and high-potential employees (64%), an increase from two years ago. Further, more than half reported difficulty retaining high-potential employees (56%) and top performers (54%).

“With talent mobility on the rise, employers need to understand what employees value if they are to succeed in attracting and retaining employees,” noted Laura Sejen, managing director at Towers Watson, in the report. “Unfortunately, our surveys reveal a significant disconnect between employers and employees.”

Indeed, in the related Towers Watson Global Workforce Study, a survey of 32,000 employees worldwide – including 6,014 from the U.S. – the firm found that that job security is the second most important reason workers join a particular company and the fourth most important reason they stay.

Employees also ranked trust and confidence in senior leadership as the third most important reason they stick with a company. Yet Towers Watson found that employers did not rank any of these factors as key attraction and retention conditions – and thus, perhaps not surprisingly, less than half of employees think their company does a good job when it comes to attracting and retaining the right workers. Only 46% said their organization hires highly qualified employees, while 42% said their employer does a good job of retaining talented employees.

“While employers recognize the importance of pay and career advancement as key reasons employees choose to join and stay with a company, they don’t place the same importance on another top attraction and retention driver: job security, or a key retention driver: trust and confidence in senior leadership,” noted Sejen.

She added that the firm’s global workforce study also revealed that many employees feel blocked in their current position. Four in 10 employees (41%) said they would need to leave their organization in order to advance their careers. Even worse, the same percentage (41%) of employees who have been formally identified as "high potentials" by their organization said they would need to leave their organization to advance their careers.

From the employer perspective, less than half of respondents (49%) believe they are effective at providing traditional career advancement opportunities, while 35% said that compared with last year, career advancement opportunities are improving.

“Organizations continue to miss the mark when it comes to career development,” Sejen stressed. “Given how important career advancement opportunities are to employees, the fact that so many employees, and especially high potentials, feel stuck should serve as a wake-up call to employers to review their career development programs. Employees will have more opportunities to seek employment elsewhere as hiring activity continues to increase, and employers will be on the lookout for high-potential and top-performing employees.”

Just goes to show that finding and keeping the best workers is getting harder and harder for companies all across the business spectrum to do, not just in trucking.

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