Job Loyalty Is Dead—5 Ways to Engage with a Transient Workforce

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Blurred picture of people walkingResearch from CareerBuilder of 1,078 professionals in October 2012 highlights an interesting trend or even change to the employee-employer dynamic. Their research suggests that the time of the passive job seeker may have indeed passed, and they present four statistics, which suggest this may be the case. And these are that:

  1. 74 percent of employees are either actively searching for a new job or are open to new opportunities
  2. 69 percent say searching for new opportunities is a part of their “regular routine”
  3. 35 percent are preparing for their next job within a few weeks of starting a new job search
  4. 30 percent say job searching is a weekly activity

It is evident to me that we are going (or have already gone through) another paradigm shift in the way that employees relate to their employers; that is employees are becoming less loyal to one particular business and more loyal to their career, lifestyle preferences and financial aims. If their current employer is not helping them to meet these aims, now more than ever it appears that employees are prepared to move to another company to get what they want.

This has serious implications for employers and talent management professionals as they are facing a workforce that is less loyal than it has ever been. This creates huge challenges for talent retention processes as employers must develop talent management processes that can effectively engage with a workforce that is fundamentally much more transient than it used to be.

Since the workforce is becoming more transient—with staff always being ready to leave the organization—the obvious response for companies seems to be to intensify their retention activity in order to tighten their grip on employees.

This is a logical strategy, but I wonder if there is an argument for organizations doing the exact opposite, which is in fact loosening their grip on labor; this may sound illogical and counter intuitive. But, in actuality, I think there is a progressive logic to this strategy, because by creating a more flexible and open labor environment, it means transient talent may leave, but it also means that transient talent can easily flow into the organization.

So, how would this work in practice? I would think that a more progressive talent management strategy that was working in acceptance of the more whimsical and transient workforce and labor market would engage in five complementary strategies.

  • Increased usage of contractors and enabling the work-force to engage with the employer in a number of flexible ways, e.g. telecommuting, part-time, job share, compressed hours etc… This would help both retention and attraction of a more transient work-force.
  • Don’t adopt an all or nothing approach with employees. When employees leave, encourage talented leavers to work with you, after they have left using flexible consulting contracts. I have seen this strategy put to good use, but I think it is an under utilized tactic.
  • Set up and run an Alumni group for your business on LinkedIn to help you harness and stay in touch with ex-employees from your business which could lead to future re-engagement or referrals.
  • Create increased job mobility within your business, making it easier for staff to rotate jobs and take on new projects/assignments so they gain experience that they might ordinarily have to leave the business to find.
  • Turn your employees into talent scouts by developing effective employee referrals programs, enabling you to tap into the highly transient labor market and attract top talent to your business.

Finally, in this modern age of a highly transient, empowered, and self-determined labor market, if employers want to attract and retain the cream of the talent, rather than drive it away, employers must be prepared to engage with talent in a more flexible way.

Read more in Talent Management

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.