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A Talent Management Nightmare: 42 Percent Of Employees Don't Trust The Boss

I read with great interest a recent blog posted by Talent Management magazine. While the blog's headline mentions 42 percent of employees don't feel their employers are looking out for their best interests (as evidenced by a fall 2009 TalentScope study of some 50,000), the article goes on to quickly dismiss this data (in the first paragraph!) suggesting it is likely 50 to 60 percent or more.

I read with great interest a recent blog posted by Talent Management magazine. While the blog's headline mentions 42 percent of employees don't feel their employers are looking out for their best interests (as evidenced by a fall 2009 TalentScope study of some 50,000), the article goes on to quickly dismiss this data  (in the first paragraph!) suggesting it is likely 50 to 60 percent or more.

Why the skepticism? Because during the past few years of recession, employers have had to be somewhat ruthless in cutting back their colleagues while offering few if any increases in compensation. This neglect is certain to have taken its toll.

To make matters worse, there's been a logjam of lost opportunities for people who would normally leave their jobs if they were unhappy because there are no opportunities for them to leave to.

This does not bode well for some companies' talent pools when the economy turns around, unless they act now. Especially among those Generation X and Y professionals, who have a lower tolerance for distrust and uunhappiness at work.

Many in talent management and HR roles are fearing the inevitable rebound of the economy, which is likely to spur high turnover rates, a loss of valuable human capital, and create a volatile, unstable workforce. 

Some employers and executives are still in denial, though. I have spoken with some of these individuals, who believe the bad economy is a great remedy and will actually result in the creation of 'I'm-so-grateful-just-to-have-a-job' mentalities and tremendously happy employees who will settle in and stop job-hopping.

This notion that the workforce will revert back to a time when employees worked 40 years at the same company is still outdated–and could have very damaging effects on the future of our nation's workforce and talent development efforts.

It's time to recognize what's really going on in the workforce and to be realistic about the future.

It is likely that more than half or your company's employees are unhappy and have lost faith and trust in your company's leadership. What to do about it? Here are a few tips:

  • Step one: Identify who the high-potential key employees are and cater to their needs.
  •  Otherwise, once the economy starts turning around talent managers can expect a pronounced session of recruiting musical chairs to take place, and the people moving likely will be high performers.

Step two: Consider the offer. Are your pay levels competitive? Are you investing in the training of your employees? Giving them advancement opportunities? Providing the perks and benefits they want and need? Employees–especially Generation X and Y employees–want to feel appreciated and a sense of belonging. Ask their opinions, get to know their career aspirations, and help them achieve their goals. To prevent an exodus of talent your organization has to be serious about keeping employees engaged and be responsive to their needs. If the grass is greener elsewhere, your talent will be sure to go.

Step three: Be open. Employees want to know where the organization is heading, what strategy is being used, what the implications are of that strategy, and any shifts therein for them personally. Don't pay 'lip service' to what's happening, result to the 'no news is good news' philosophy, or only communicate with senior-level staff. The more open and honest your company is, the more trust, loyalty, credibility, and happiness it stands to gain.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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