Employee Retention in the New Market

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Sue Wyman

The employment climate in the technology sector has changed dramatically in the past 18 months. There has been a shift from a client-driven market to a candidate-driven market. Clients don’t want to believe that, but it’s true; and we don’t see that climate changing in our lifetime. The top candidates we talk to have multiple offers and are often counter offered by their current companies. Some of the counter offers we’ve seen in the past 12 months have been killer. The myth of anyone (headhunter or employer) being able to control the decision-making process of a great candidate is just that—a myth. The candidate decides what’s best for him or her, not what’s best for the potential employer and certainly not what’s best for the headhunter. Everyone involved needs to have a clear picture of the needs of the employer and the needs of the candidate. Being on top of what’s in everybody’s heads is paramount.Employers who want to land great people need to be on their toes. Companies spend untold dollars on corporate brands and then muck up their employer brand in the interview process by being unfocused, slow and often times rude. If candidates perceive that they are being treated poorly in the interview process, can they really expect to be treated better when they sign up? There’s trouble on the horizon and it comes in a lot of different flavors:
  • According to the Bureau of Labor, in 2010 over 10M jobs in the United States will go unfilled—in 2022 it will be 30M jobs.
  • College graduation rates are down to 54 percent, and 75 percent of new jobs will require a college degree.
  • Making the wild assumption that baby boomers (44-62 years old) will leave the workforce when they are retirement eligible, there aren’t enough Gen Xers (28-43 years old) to replace them (78M boomers versus 40M Gen Xers). Gen Y (7-27 years old) is big (70M), but still lacks the experience to make an immediate impact.
  • For Gen X, the average time in a company is four years; for Gen Y, it’s more like two; and while the boomers have been pretty loyal in the past, the technology market hasn’t exactly rewarded them for that loyalty.
  • According to an AARP survey of boomers, 31 percent of mature workers became responsible for a dependentparent, 23 percent had an adult child move back home and 16 percent were providing child care or day care for grandchildren. And 50 to 80 hour work weeks, while tolerated by boomers and some Gen Xers, won’t be tolerated by Gen Y and won’t be of interest to boomers as they "mature" in their careers and many take on the care of family members. So, since everyone knows that a 40 hour work week for technology professionals is a joke—who’s going to be doing all the work?There are a lot more questions than answers, but we’ll explore each of these challenges and potential solutions in future columns.