Shut up and listen

Employee loyalty almost certainly hasn't been much of an issue for the past few years. With employers calling all the shots in this windswept economy, keeping quality workers has been much less of an issue than figuring out just who they're able to keep.

But that tide is turning. As the economy slowly stirs back to life, employers increasingly find themselves in a position they haven't found themselves in quite a while: worried about keeping good employees.

MetLife just released one of my favorite surveys of the year this week -- their 10th annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends -- and it shows that nearly a third of workers plan to move on to another job by the end of the year.

But perhaps even more surprising is that a record number of younger workers are actually starting to get worried about retirement. Who knew they could think so far ahead? Turns out they can, and are. In fact a whopping 52 percent of 21-to-30-year-olds are stressed about running out of money during their retirement. That's a pretty sizable jump from only about a third back in 2003. Course, a lot's certainly happened since then.

Older workers are worried, too, with 35 percent or Boomers putting retirement off a little longer following the huge losses their 401(k)s have taken over the last few years.

So retirement's clearly a huge employee concern right now, regardless of age or background. But so's health care. And I guess that's not surprising right now either given how much it's in the news these days. The twist comes in the slight disconnect between employers and their employees when it comes to just how important it is. The new MetLife numbers show that  two-thirds of employees say health benefits are an important driver of their loyalty while only 57 percent of employers say health benefits are an important driver of employee loyalty.

That's an interesting gap, and one that could be closed quickly with a little bit more communication-- and I'm not talking about another random e-mail chastising employees for their diets or bad habits. And you might want to start thinking outside the box here. If you want to find out what employees really think, you might try stepping out of the room. You'd be amazed at how much more open they can be if Big Brother (or sister) isn't glaring at them from the other end of the table.

And if you think I'm making all this up, I want to drop just one more nugget on you from the MetLife study: Employee loyalty sits at a seven-year low right now. While employer loyalty's peaking at a seven-year high. Coincidence?

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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