Frustrated middle aged businessman sitting at office deskTalent retention is set to take center stage this year in the talent war when you consider the findings of the Hay Group survey, which is forecasting record levels of employee turnover across the globe in 2014. The study revealed that following a period of being pretty flat, employee turnover has jumped 12.9 percent over the last two years and is expected to rise from 20.6 percent to 23.4 percent over the next four years. While, of course, these means there will be plenty more fish in the sea for your hiring team, you’ll need to make sure that your organization is not venting excessive amounts of talent into the ocean – which puts talent retention center stage with recruitment.

So, where should your talent retention enhancement initiative start? Well, most of you will be looking at these kinds of surveys, which show that the top reasons that employees quit is down to: a lack of career development opportunities, poor manager relationship, compensation and a boring job with no challenge. These have been the four cornerstones of talent retention for some time and most talent professionals believe that if you address these you’ll make serious impacts on staff turnover.

This is likely to be very true, but a new push factor that may be driving away talent has stealthily made its way up the rails to be one of the leading drivers of employee turnover–and that is stress. Yes, a recent poll  has revealed that 42 percent of U.S. respondents have purposely switched jobs due to a stressful working environment, which shows now that stress has become one of the key drivers of employee turnover. Stress is now no longer a fringe issue that unsympathetic companies can file away under weak, fragile, and unable to handle pressure, as if the stressed employees are some somehow defective and the organization itself is not at fault. Stress is now a mainstream issue, which employers need to start taking as seriously as the organization is contributing in some part to this stress.

Now, it’s easy to try and debunk the ‘stress sympathy argument’ with the ‘school of hard knocks’ counter argument, which suggests that stress is natural and people should get on with it.  This argument is sound in a certain respect, which is that stress is natural. But not everything natural is good, and dangerous levels of stress, which the Monster survey alluded to, are not good and should not be an acceptable part of mainstream corporate culture – if you want to be considered a healthy company culture.

Sure, there is a huge responsibility on employees to manage their own stress levels, but progressive employers should also do their part in alleviating stress, which includes identifying stressors and giving employees the opportunities to be heard and make changes to their job and working environment. These enable workers to manage and reduce their own stress. And with stress having now been identified as a key driver of turnover, in a year or time when employee turnover is soaring, a stress management strategy is set to be one of the most influential retention strategies that an employer can deploy over the next five years.

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