Staff retention worries execs: survey

A new report shows that Canadian executives want to make sure their staff stays put.

While many Canadians fear that they might wind up jobless during this recession, a new survey shows that it’s actually employers who are worried about losing their staff.

Robert Half International, a California-based professional staffing firm, interviewed 100 senior executives in Canada and discovered that staff retention is their number one concern.

“Companies are operating with leaner teams today,” says Larry Brownoff, a senior recruiting manager in the company’s Edmonton office. “But the staff consists of key people that have helped a business get to where they are today, and they need them to help them grow when they come through this difficult economic time.”

Although 35% of executives cited retention as the main staffing issue keeping them up at night, making sure employees are happy, so they don’t look elsewhere, is another major concern. The report reveals that 23% of those surveyed worry about staff morale.

Brownoff explains that one way to avoid having an office full of depressed employees ‰?? which is especially important now, with so many people are getting the pink slip ‰?? is being open and honest.

“Direct, truthful communication is the best way to go,” he says. “A company has to let employees know where things stand. They shouldn’t do this in an e-mail, but in a one-on-one or weekly staff meeting setting.”

Employers can also offer additional training or new challenges to keep their staff engaged. “Have them feel good about what they’re doing and give them the feeling that they have an opportunity to advance. It adds loyalty to the firm.”

Besides retention and morale, executives are also concerned about recruitment (22%) and productivity (17%).

Some of these issues are more acute now that the economy is in shambles, but Brownoff says staffing concerns are always at the top of an executive’s mind.

“Things haven’t really changed,” he explains. “The biggest difference is that most companies have had to make some economic adjustments, so staffing becomes more important.”

While retention might be a cause of anxiety for some Canadian executives, do they really have to worry about losing employees, considering many companies aren‰??t hiring as much as they used to? Definitely, says Brownoff.

“It’s true that people aren’t moving around as much,” he explains, “but a lot of candidates are passively looking. So while they aren’t really looking to make a move, if an opportunity comes up with the right dynamics they’d likely be quite interested in that job.”