April 11, 2012 – In a sign of an improving job market, 2 out of 3 employers are implementing programs to retain some of their most talented workers, according to a survey by OI Partners, a global coaching and leadership development and consulting firm.

68% of employers have taken steps during the past year to retain some of their best executives, managers, future leaders, and those who work on the front lines. That is because turnover has already increased at 30% of surveyed companies and most are bracing for more employee exits in the coming year, according to the survey:

  • 90% are concerned about losing high-potential employees
  • 72% are worried about departing front-line workers (sales and service employees)
  • 60% are apprehensive about middle managers leaving
  • 45% are uneasy about senior-level executives exiting

“Most employers have initiated measures to hang on to their best talent. They realize if retention is a problem with a high unemployment rate, it will only get worse once more jobs become available if they don’t do something to entice employees to remain,” said Steve Ford, chair of OI Partners.

“Companies are most concerned about losing employees who they have designated as their future leaders and those who directly work with customers. Job opportunities have already increased for these levels of workers and competition for the best ones will become more fierce, as well as for those who manage them,” Ford added.

The most difficult types of workers to retain are: operations and production (chosen by 30%), sales and marketing (27%), customer service (24%), accounting and finance (22%) and information services (20%).

Coaching programs, better compensation and benefits and tuition reimbursement are among the top retention methods employers are using to retain management employees and future leaders.

“Providing coaching to employees in how to become better managers is as important a signal of investing in their career development as are salary and benefit increases,” said Ford.

Employers are using primarily non-financial methods to retain those who work on the front lines, including selecting them more carefully, giving departing employees exit interviews to uncover and correct issues causing workers to leave and providing better orientation and training.

The methods companies are using to retain employees are:

  • High-potential workers: The top ways that companies are trying to retain high-potential employees are through better compensation and benefits (43% of respondents), coaching programs (40%), mentoring programs (38%) and tuition reimbursement (37%).
  • Middle managers: The most popular retention methods companies are using for middle managers are coaching programs (35%), tuition reimbursement (30%), better compensation and benefits (30%), and flexible hours and schedules (24%).
  • Senior-level executives: Coaching programs are the top way companies are trying to retain senior-level executives (37%), followed by stock options (32%), profit-sharing (27%), better compensation and benefits (24%), and retention bonuses (18%).
  • Front-line workers: 50% of employers said they are selecting front-line workers more carefully as the top retention method. Other popular retention methods are: giving exit interviews (48%), better orientation and training (35%), tuition reimbursement (34%), and better compensation and benefits (26%).

OI Partners received responses from 174 organizations with locations throughout North America.

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