Most Popular Methods For Retaining High-Potentials, Middle Managers, Senior Execs & Front Lines

May 28th, 2013 – With the job market improving, half of companies are reporting higher turnover than last year and three-quarters are bracing for still more employees to leave. Fueling that concern, 58% of companies have added or plan to add workers during 2013 while only 8% expect staffing to decrease and 34% anticipate no change, according to a survey by OI Partners, a global coaching and leadership development and consulting firm.

The number of companies with higher employee turnover this year rose dramatically from last year – 51% reported having higher employee turnover in 2013 compared to only 30% that had higher turnover in 2012.

The surveyed companies reported higher turnover this year across all organizational levels:

  • Front-line workers: 51% have had higher turnover among front-line employees
  • High-potentials: 34% have reported higher turnover among high-potential employees
  • Senior executives: 29% have lost more senior-level executives than last year
  • Middle managers: 27% have had higher turnover among middle managers

Concern about losing still more workers due to the better job market is running high across all organizational levels as well:

  • High-potentials: 78% are concerned about losing high-potential workers
  • Middle managers: 63% are worried about middle managers departing
  • Front-line workers:  51% are concerned about losing employees on the front lines
  • Senior executives: 43% are worried about senior-level executives leaving

Customer service employees are the most difficult to retain, chosen by 28%, followed by operations and production workers (26%), sales and marketing (24%), information services (23%), accounting and finance (21%), research and development (10%) and human resources (7%). For two consecutive years, no company reported any problem with retaining legal employees.

Retaining talent was selected as the top human resource challenge for this year, chosen by 70% of survey respondents. Recruiting the right talent finished a close No. 2 human resource issue, selected by 65%, followed by providing coaching to develop employees (48%), preparing for the health care law to fully take effect next year (35%), and retaining talent while also downsizing (16%).

Coaching is the top method that organizations are using to retain senior-level executives, middle managers and high-potential employees. “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 Patty Prosser, chair of OI Partners.

Better compensation and benefits is the second most popular way to retain senior executives and high potentials.

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 determine if their reasons for leaving can be addressed either for them or for remaining employees, and providing better orientation and training.

“Companies are most concerned about losing high-potentials, or those they have designated as their future leaders, and middle managers, or supervisors of employees who directly work with customers. More employers are making it a priority to demonstrate to workers how valued they are. It’s no longer enough to say, ‘Be happy you have a job.’ They realize if retention is a problem with a still-high unemployment rate, it will only get worse if they don’t entice employees to remain,” said Prosser.

The top methods surveyed organizations are using to retain employees are:

  • High-potential workers: The top ways that companies are trying to retain high-potential employees are through coaching programs (55% of respondents), better compensation and benefits (47%), flexible hours and schedules (45%), mentoring programs (40%) and tuition reimbursement (37%).
  • Middle managers: The most popular retention methods companies are using for middle managers are coaching programs (51%), flexible hours and schedules (49%), better compensation and benefits (41%), and tuition reimbursement (37%).
  • Senior-level executives: Coaching programs are the top way companies are trying to retain senior-level executives (53%), followed by better compensation and benefits (51%), stock options (44%), profit-sharing (29%), and retention bonuses (27%).
  • Front-line workers: 62% of employers said they are selecting front-line workers more carefully as the top retention method. Other popular retention methods are: giving exit interviews to departing workers (55%), better training (55%), better orientation programs (47%), tuition reimbursement (37%), flexible hours and schedules (31%), pre-employment testing (30%), and better compensation and benefits (28%).

OI Partners received responses from 153 organizations with locations throughout North America.

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