I have been predicting a coming "employee free agency" for quite some time. What do I mean by employee free agency? It is the shift of power in the hiring proposition from the employer to the employee. In other words, employees (at least the best talent) are increasingly going to be able to control their future, able to choose among the best opportunities.
As ridiculous as this prediction may have sounded over the past couple of years, it really isn't a hard prediction to make. You see, 2010 was the first year of a decade that will have 65 out of 80 million baby boomers retiring. While the recession has delayed those retirement dates, it is inevitable that eventually those workers will be leaving the work force. When they do, combined with a recovering economy (as slow as that recovery may be), employers are going to face a mad scramble to replace all that experience, talent, and labor. Employers will find themselves having to compete for the best talent in ways they have never experienced before.
According to a recent survey done by career site Glassdoor, it appears we may be seeing the early signs of that impending free agency. According to their survey:
- 1 in 3 employees plan to look for a new job in the coming year, and 1 in 5 plan to do so in the first 3 months of 2013.
- Fears about layoffs have stabilized at around 17% of respondents, reflecting a higher level of employee confidence.
And, this isn't the first time we have heard this from employees. A study done last year by MetLife showed identical results, that 1 out of 3 employees hope to be working somewhere else within 12 months and an alarming 60% of "high performing" employees having the same hope.
As an employer, you can choose to not believe the survey results, but that will be a costly mistake. Among employers, there will be winners and there will be losers as this plays out. Winners will find an increasingly effective work force. The losers however will suffer with lower productivity, higher turnover and increased costs as a result of both.
So, how are you positioned? Are you going to be seen as an employer of choice, a destination for the best talent? Or are you going to see the quality of your talent depleted, the best-of-your-best attracted away by your competition?
Don't take your employees for granted, and don't let their silence fool you into thinking they are satisfied. They won't let you know they are out looking for a new job, but according to this survey at least one fifth of them already are.
Photo by woodleywonderworks.
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