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Employee Retention: Not Active, Not Passive, But Poised

Employee Retention: Not Active, Not Passive, But Poised

Adapted from the book Finding Keepers: The Monster Guide to Hiring and Holding the World’s Best Employees by Steve Pogorzelski, Jesse Harriott, Ph.D., and Doug Hardy. Published January 2008 by McGraw-Hill.

In 2006, Monster studied workers to assess these attitudes and help create a composite picture of employee loyalty.We discovered that the key factor is not whether someone is looking for a new job, but her level of attachment (or loyalty) to her current situation. Our understanding of workers’ openness to switching jobs reveals a much larger group of potential  candidates than the few who are actively looking for work. The largest segment of potential candidates — about 70 percent of them — consists of workers who are employed but
much less attached to their current employer than workers historically have been. We found this segment across demographic categories, and it’s especially true of the Generation X and Generation Y segments, the very ones who will be hired in greatest numbers in the coming decade.

The research finds these qualities among the three groups:

  1. Settled Loyalists (30 percent). These workers claim allegiance to their current job and employer. They are settled for a variety of personal and professional reasons. They are difficult to recruit, and they have high personal barriers to leaving their current position. 
  2. Poised Loyalists (11 percent). These are loyalists who claim allegiance to their current job and company but have a lower personal barrier to switching. A familiar example is the person who loves her work but has nowhere to go in a company or who dislikes the boss. This segment of the employed represents a vulnerability to their employers and an opportunity for recruiters.
  3. Poised Opportunists (59 percent). These workers are clearly open to the next opportunity to change. They are open to approaches; they post their résumés online, reply to recruiting calls, or both. Many employed opportunists are actively looking for another job.

Today’s poised workers — 70 percent of the workforce — think of a job as a contract: they give their irreplaceable time, talent, and energy in return for tangible and intangible benefits: money, prestige, lifestyle benefits, and so forth. The arrangement lasts as long as both sides are satisfied. These workers tend to be less trusting of current employers, and they believe that better pay and benefits await them at other companies. As candidates, however, they have also learned to be skeptical of potential employers’ claims. They have learned to question whether a job description reflects the reality of working day to day.

They will not tolerate bad bosses. They will make strong connections with good ones — in fact, this is a main line of defense against poised workers leaving.