Companies will pay for pushing employees too far

by 03 Nov 2009

Companies that played on the insecurities of their employees in order to drive out extra hours and more productivity during the downturn will need to be on guard in the coming months, delegates at the HR Leadership conference in Melbourne were told today.

Speaking live via video link from Savannah, Georgia in the United States, Allan Schweyer, principal of the Center for Human Capital Innovation said that eighty per cent of employees are ready to leave their organisation once the employment market picks up – and the companies that need to watch out are those that intentionally used the global recession to play on employee insecurities to work them harder.

“A recent survey revealed that sixty per cent of knowledge workers are just happy to have a job,” said Schweyer. “Many companies knew this and really used it to their advantage to draw as much as they could from each individual employee and this has led to a jaded workforce.”

The solution, said Schweyer, is for companies to increase their efforts to engage top talent, and to try and hold on to those top people.

Research shows that an engaged workforce is a more productive workforce and that employees are much less likely to leave an organisation when they feel engaged, said Schweyer. He added that the best way to truly engage staff is through offering career progression, personal growth and social inclusion - rather than extra money.

However, as a short-term fix for those companies who did not behave ideally during the recession, Schweyer suggests firstly admitting to employees where the company went wrong and potentially offering additional compensation to hold on to top talent.

“Start with meetings with the top performers and key talent and be straight up and let them know how much they are valued within the company and how much you want them to stay,” said Schweyer. “The compensation lever could also be used as a short-term fix to hold on to those employees the company can not afford to lose.”

- Sarah O’Carroll


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