A reporter from our local Birmingham newspaper forwarded me a study from SHRM called the "hiring difficulty index." The running index was an ongoing survey designed to chart how hard it is to hire people at different points in time. Good idea. I'm a member of SHRM, why haven't I seen it before??!!
The index suggested that it's getting easier to hire people in a down economy. I agree that happens, since fewer jobs are available for your talent to jump to. Voluntary turnover goes down during recessions. It’s a fact that during recessions, fewer jobs are available. It doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to determine that means fewer companies will be actively stalking your talent, which means reduced voluntary churn across your employee base. With unemployment levels in the low single digits for the past couple of years, lower turnover is going to feel like a vacation. The tricky part of this for HR pros is that you can’t sit still. You’ve got to use the time to build your skills and add value in other areas.
Other sources claim your employees are still actively looking to jump. Ann Bares throws up a study that says your best talent is still actively looking:
"A new study by Leadership IQ reports that 47% of the high performers surveyed are actively seeking another job. But the news gets worse: Only 18% of low performers and 25% of middle performers are actively looking.
Begs the question: Are we doing enough to retain our high performers, or are we assuming that the slow economy and job market preempt this concern?
The results come from research where Leadership IQ surveyed 16,237 employees on a range of workplace issues, then divided them into high, middle and low performers based on their annual appraisal scores. In what I find to be an interesting (and somewhat ironic) side note, there were 3,896 self-identified high performers, 8,607 middle performers and 3,734 low performers. A nearly perfectly balanced bell shaped performance curve - how often do we see that in real organizational life?"
I do agree with the study Ann is citing in one important regard- your best talent will always have options. I also agree that the lowest performers have some sense of who they are (deep down inside), and prepare to hunker down until jobs become readily available again.
So, protect the best talent, even in a down economy. It's easy to see your turnover down 50% and think you have the problem licked. You might just have a different problem.
PS - like Ann, I'm skeptical of any study where respondents rank their own performance and it comes back in a normal distribution/bell curve. It doesn't happen in real life.
Everyone thinks they're a player on the ranch. EVERYONE! Perhaps the polling folks started with a goal of having a normal distribution, and kept making calls until they found enough realists to rate themselves as "low performers". Tough gig, working that survey.... they had to make a lot of calls to fill that "low performer" bucket....