Employee job dissatisfaction is running high these days, meaning that, as the economy recovers, they are more likely to seek new employment opportunities. This finding, from a MetLife survey, indicates employers would be well-advised to work now on strategies geared toward improving employee loyalty and retention down the road.

The MetLife survey, its 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefit Trends, reports that upwards of one in three employees hopes to be working elsewhere in the next 12 months. The specific percentage varies from 34% to 38%, depending on company size. Given this inclination to bolt from their current employers, it's not surprising to see that the percentage of employees who express a very strong sense of loyalty to their current employer has dipped below 50% (now 47%, compared with 59% in 2008). The percentage of employees who feel their company has a very strong sense of loyalty to them has dropped to 33% (from 41% in 2008).

Employers, understandably focused on recession-related business issues, remain unaware of this change in employee perception. From 2008 to 2010, a consistent 57% say they have a very strong sense of loyalty to their employees, and half consistently say their employees have a very strong sense of loyalty to them.

Employers need to be aware of changing employee sentiment and act now to avoid having to face significant retention issues when the economy improves. As the economy rebounds and business picks up, companies can ill afford to lose staff, particularly top performers. Consider a few of the following steps that companies can be taking today to address this:

  • Identify top performers and other employees who, for various reasons, you would hate to lose.
  • Make whatever tweaks you can afford to the compensation packages of these employees.
  • Employee loyalty isn't created by money alone. Nurture an "all for one and one for all" attitude, by providing access to owners and executives, fostering teamwork, and making corporate strategies and mission a shared vision to the extent possible.
  • Look for non-monetary ways to compensate employees, like offering more flexible schedules where possible.
  • Show employees that their company appreciates them, through individual and group recognition.
  • Make the workplace a place where employees want to be by cultivating a positive, mutually supportive corporate culture.
  • Invest in employee training, giving workers the opportunity to advance and your company better and more productive performers.

As the MetLife survey states, "A loyal and satisfied workforce is part of the foundation of business growth. Widening cracks in this foundation may force employers to pay a price in reduced retention and productivity when the job market improves." Avoid this potentially expensive price tag for your company tomorrow, by attending to issues of employee loyalty, satisfaction and morale today.

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