Employee Retention and Economic Recession

With the current recession and the US rate of unemployment averaging to 9.5% (as of April 2010), many employers and industries that have historically struggled with employee turnover have increased their employee retention rates. Higher retention means lower business cost, which in turn increases business sustainability and strengthens the economy. However, the question that this positive trend poses is twofold: how many employees who keep their jobs really want to do so and how many of them will stay committed once the economy sees better times? Also, how has this trend affected the need for businesses and organizations to value their employees?

Among employees younger than 25 years, less than 39% are satisfied with their jobs; among 45 – 54 year olds less than 45% are satisfied with their current positions (www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17348696). That leaves more than half of employees unhappy with the companies they work for or what they do in their job. Yet the weak job market means employees are not able to find other opportunities that would better match their skill sets, passions, or desirable pay levels. Many times employees are not comfortable verbalizing their dissatisfactions to their supervisors or leaders for fear of losing their jobs. Thus many employees’ commitment to their jobs is based on the enviromental factors, and not on internalized loyalty to the job or to the company.

I’ve heard some professionals say that they and their colleagues value their jobs more than they did four years ago. The attitudes have changed attributing more value to the job. It makes one think twice before accepting a job at another company that may no be financially stable in the near future. However, if an employee values the job only because of economic recession, those businesses may face tough times when the global economy improves.

Secondly, not all organizations invest the same efforts in rewarding their valued employees as they did several years ago. While employees may stay on their jobs, it’s not a good practice for the the long run purposes to justify business or policy decisions that might otherwise affect employee retention on the premise “Where else would they go!”.

Thus, as businessmen and businesswomen we need to think wisely. Let us not assume that employees stay on their jobs by choice, but assess the value for an employee having the job. Let us look at the strategic ways to increase the number of employees who continue performing their jobs, not because they “have to”, but because they “want to”. And let us not take employees for granted, but continue exploring ways to make employees feel valued, so that organizations will have their commitment for a long time after the recession ends.