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Survey: Employers face more turnover in 2024 as confidence in leadership dips

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Dive Brief:

  • Employers will likely face more worker turnover during the first half of 2024, according to research released Jan. 3 by management consulting firm Eagle Hill. Working adults surveyed nationally in December indicated that an increasing number will be leaving their jobs over the next six months due to dipping confidence in their employer and in their satisfaction with the overall workplace experience, the firm said.
  • The most pessimistic indicator of more employee departures is the nearly 6-point drop last quarter in worker confidence about their organization’s stability and leadership, Eagle Hill’s Retention Index showed. Worker satisfaction with cultural elements, such as connection, meaning and recognition, is also down, but not as much. It fell 2.7 points in Q4 2023. On the other hand, employees seem comfortable about pay-related issues: Workers’ perception of their compensation and expectations for future growth rebounded 2.5 points during the last quarter, the survey showed.
  • The findings suggest that for employers, “Now is the time to engage with the workers they want to keep,” Eagle Hill president and CEO Melissa Jezior said in the release. The good news is that “the indicators where workers feel most pessimistic — organizational culture and confidence — are the two areas where employers can most readily intervene and drive positive impact,” the release noted.

Dive Insight:

During talent shortages driven by the pandemic and its immediate aftermath, employers were pushed to invest in strategies to enhance employee experience, such as by improving engagement — a key driver of worker interest in and motivation to do their job — and considered crucial to production and retention.

But in 2023, employers began pulling back, advisory firm Forrester previously reported. As 2024 opens, investment in employee experience, engagement and “culture energy” may continue to dip, the firm predicted.

If so, that would paint a troubling picture for employers and HR professionals, who recently told Robert Half that retaining top talent and keep teams motivated remain primary concerns. Findings by Boston Consulting Group clearly signal how an “EX recession,” as Forrester dubbed it, could harm those goals: More than a quarter of 11,000 employees BCG surveyed globally said they don’t see themselves with the same employer in 2024 because of concerns about not feeling respected or enjoying their work.

However, there are positive steps employers can take to counter these trends, experts say. For example, instead of cutting costs or relying on ineffective checklists, employers can invest in genuinely engaging with employees. This would involve listening to and understanding employee feedback about such investments.

Also, numerous studies, including BCG’s survey, show that managers have the most influence on employees’ emotional needs. By fundamentally rethinking what great managers do and how they do it, and investing in building these skills, employers can produce better leaders and improve retention overall, a BCG executive stated.

Additionally, this year, HR professionals will continue to reinvent DEI as they respond to ongoing pushback against existing approaches, industry leaders have noted. HR can do so by demonstrating both the tangible and intangible benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, a DEI consultant told attendees during a recent Society for Human Resource Management conference. That means identifying “why” you’re focusing on DEI and showing the people who oppose what you’re doing that you’ll fight for their interests as well, the consultant said.

2024 is also the year organizations will be scrambling to effectively integrate generative AI into their operations. Those that do will likely gain a competitive advantage, according to a report from HR research and advisory firm McLean & Co.

Yet, although others have noted that adopting gen AI could boost employee experience by taking rote and predictable work off their plates, it’s also likely to disrupt existing roles, shift skills and cause changes to workforce composition, the McLean report warned. Success hinges on HR addressing the underlying impacts on talent and developing strategic initiatives in response, the firm noted.

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