Where Will Your Talented Knowledge Workers Be Next Year?

I-QuiteAccording to recent surveys your top talent could be working for someone else within the next year. High rates of employee turnover and lack of engagement continue to be major concerns among business leaders particularly in knowledge based enterprises.


This is an increasing concern now that Millennials are the largest generational demographic in the current workforce. For the first time in history, organizations are likely to have five different generations working together—each with their own skills, interests, priorities and expectations. Not surprisingly, this generational diversity is forcing employers to consider a new approach. The bottom line—you are seeking to improve—depends on recruiting, retaining and developing fully engaged top talent. It is not millennial behavior we need to grasp, but fundamental human behavior. In our attempt to understand young workers, we are missing the bigger picture: understanding people.

What appears to have become a Millennial issue is more likely related to a fundamental people issue. Millennials do have high expectations and tend to be more vocal and active when they are not met. However, research has provided evidence that most all top performers expect to be given challenging assignments that make a difference, and have a voice in the tasks they are given. These and other unmet expectations continue to drive down employee retention and engagement rates among all age groups.

Money Is Rarely The Cause
One recent survey indicated that boredom is one of the top reasons talented employees leave a company, and employees that feel restrained, disengaged, or bored are over two times more likely to change jobs for as little as a 5% pay increase. On-going Gallop surveys indicate that less than one-third of employees say they are engaged at work. It is “old news” that employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers. Numerous surveys have reported that over 60% of employees were considering leaving their current employer because of ineffective managers. Over 80% of employees say they would rather work for a company that values “open communication” rather than a company that offers perks like top health plans, free food, and gym memberships.

The Reality
The factors that attract, engage and retain young top talent are the same for all top talent. In my research for the first edition of my book, Turning Good People Into Top Talent over ten years ago, I discovered what top talent wanted at the time. This was before we even used the term Millennials and here we are today with them making up over half of the work force. Back up 60 years and we discover that Peter Drucker, the greatest management thinker of the 20th Century was already warning about the coming knowledge worker. Drucker told us the day would come when the majority of the workforce would be knowledge workers and we would not know how to management them. Today, we have the combination of a multigenerational, knowledge based workforce. Just as Drucker warned, we don’t know how to manage them.

An Action Step
Jim Clifton, Chairman of Gallop has said for years that “bad managers” (his words) were at the root of the employee engagement crisis. In one of his articles I detected a bit of despair in his tone when he said nothing will change until business leaders take action and fix their bad-manager problem. At the risk of over-simplifying the issue, there is a simple cost-effective option that could be the start of making a big difference—one manager at time.

Click here to watch a six-minute presentation: www.effectiveness.com/management-effectiveness.


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