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If you are concerned about employee retention (and you probably are), you should also be paying close attention to employee development opportunities in your organization.

Two recent studies about talent management have published findings that illustrate employees’ dissatisfaction with their current jobs and their plans to find new work in the near future. The research shows that employees are working harder than ever, yet many report that their compensation has decreased and their skills are not being effectively utilized.

The first study, the First Command Financial Behaviors Index, surveyed 1,000 middle-class Americans (ages 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000) and found that:

  • 24 percent of respondents are dissatisfied with their current job, up from 21 percent in 2010 and 11 percent in 2009
  • 39 percent report they are job hunting, up from 29 percent in 2010
  • 60 percent say they have experienced at least one change at work because of the economy (up from 56 percent in 2010). The top three changes are:
  1. Elimination of bonuses (20 percent)
  2. Elimination of overtime (14 percent)
  3. Decrease in pay (14 percent)


  • 56 percent say they have made at least one change in their own behavior at work because of the economy (up from 47 percent in 2010):
  1. Working extra hours (19 percent)
  2. Trying to stay busy with work (17 percent)
  3. Finding ways to cut costs or develop better operational procedures (15 percent)
  4. Learning new skills (15 percent)

The data indicates that middle-class employees feel they are working more than in the past, yet they are not being rewarded for their efforts. This perceived lack of recognition or compensation is damaging to talent management efforts. If employees feel that they are not appreciated for the hard work they are doing, they are likely to start looking elsewhere for employment.

The second study, “Inspiring Talent 2011” from Lumesse, global talent management firm, surveyed 4,000 employees in larger companies in 14 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Germany. The research found that:

  • 29 percent of employees expect to leave their jobs within five years (46 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are planning to leave, along with half of the most experienced staff)
  • 81 percent feel that their skills or talents aren’t used to their full ability
  • 49 percent feel that their appraisal process has little or no value

This study shows how important employee development and performance management are when it comes to employee retention. Employees who feel that their talents are ignored and who aren’t given opportunities to learn and grow are more likely to become dissatisfied with their jobs. Employees also need to hear constructive, ongoing feedback from their managers to help them improve and to show them that the organization is invested in their success.

Talent management is not a stand-alone process. It should be integrated with employee development and training programs, leadership development and performance management. How do you do this in your organization?

Get tips on how to use employee engagement to improve employee retention.

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