Workers stressing over staying

by 30 Oct 2007

MANY EMPLOYERS do not fully understand why workers join or leave an organisation, an obstacle that greatly increases the challenge of finding and keeping good employees.

A recent study has found that workers rank stress as a top reason they would leave their company, but it is not even among the top five reasons that employers cited. Instead, employers cite insufficient pay and lack of career development and promotion opportunities.

The study found that when employees are satisfied with stress levels and work-life balance, 86 per cent are more inclined to stay with their company (versus 64 per cent when dissatisfied) and 88 per cent are more likely to recommend it as a place to work (versus 55 per cent when dissatisfied).

“Worldwide, the frenetic pace of modern business is taking its toll on employees,” said Adam Sorensen, global total rewards practice leader at international HR association WorldatWork, which conducted the study in conjunction with Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

“There’s no question that employees are more likely to leave or speak badly of their workplace if they feel overburdened. Companies that take steps to ensure that stress levels are not onerous will save money in the long run by reducing attrition.”

The study results, which are based on a survey of 946 companies and a complementary survey of 13,000 employees, also found that to attract, retain and motivate the best employees, companies must clearly communicate expectations about rewards and then deliver as promised.

More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of employees who say their employers succeed at both promising and delivering rewards are committed to their company and motivated to help it succeed, compared to about one-fourth of workers overall. These employees also are more likely to be top performers.

“Clearly setting expectations and delivering on the reward promised is a formula for having a dedicated, productive workforce,” said Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards for Watson Wyatt.

“When workers see that their performance has a real impact on rewards and that management follows through, employees become more committed and confident about the opportunities with their employer.”

The study also found that two of three companies worldwide report difficulty attracting top-performing workers, while a full 70 per cent have difficulty attracting critical-skill employees. These trends show remarkably little variance around the world.

In addition, more than half of companies report difficulty retaining top-performing (52 per cent) and critical-skill (56 per cent) workers. The United States has the highest median voluntary turnover rate, at 11 per cent, while Latin America has the lowest, at 5 per cent.

“Attracting and retaining the right employees is a challenge for employers globally. Employers that are best at building and maintaining the right work force are often the best at aligning workers’ rewards with the company’s goals,” said Sejen.

“Their performance management programs clearly communicate what workers need to do to get ahead and to improve company performance. This builds a sense of teamwork that makes it easier to retain employees, as well as attract high-potential newcomers.”

The study also found that globally, companies are making more workers eligible to participate in incentive compensation programs, although nearly one-half of employers also raised the financial targets that must be met to earn those bonus rewards.

Further, roughly one-half of companies say their managers do a good job at performance management. Managers at US companies received the lowest ratings, while those in Asia-Pacific received the highest.


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