The rise of “restless employees”

Worried, anxious and uneasy. As an employer, you do not want these three words to describe your workforce. Instead of being productive, focused, and driving results for your organization, these restless employees are distracted, unhappy and anxious to leave the company for the next best opportunity that comes along.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans are experiencing this feeling on a daily basis in the workplace, and the trend is on the rise. An increasing number of employees are restless in their jobs, but the high unemployment rate and weak labor market keep them from moving to another job. According to recent survey results from management consulting firm, The Hay Group, the percentage of employees who want to leave their jobs has jumped 8% since 2009, and many employees don’t believe their employers will be able to retain top talent. The Hay Group suggests we are in the “eye of a turnover storm,” and as the economy improves, companies that do not address the needs of restless employees will lose their best employees. What business can afford that?

Here is a sample of key findings from the survey of over 1,696,000 U.S. employees working in 152 organizations:

  • In 2011, nearly two in every five employees (38 percent) planned to leave their employers within the next five years, compared to 30 percent in 2009
  • Employees are also increasingly concerned about their organizations’ ability to retain top talent (only 43 percent held favorable views in 2011, compared to 56 percent in 2009)

What is the key message for employers? Restless employees will leave when opportunities become more plentiful.

What are some tips for employees to combat restless employees? The Hay Group suggests that a couple ways are to structure work environments to support employees’ success in their roles and to reinforce the balance between employee contributions and rewards. This means that employees need to be adequately recognized and rewarded for their efforts. This will help them see how their contributions affect the overall success of the organization and how they fit into the bigger picture.

What are some other ways that employers can combat “restless employees?”

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