August 30, 2006

Business, beware! High turnover ahead, experts say

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chances are, you're job hunting.

One in five workers is actively seeking a new job, and a
majority are keeping an eye out for something better if the
economy continues to improve, new research shows, fueling what
experts say is a sweeping tide of turnover ahead for U.S.

"That's really a wake-up call for employers," said Stuart
Itkin, chief marketing officer at Kronos Inc., workforce
consultants which commissioned the "Working in America: What
Employees Want" survey released this week.

"Companies should expect to see increasing turnover," he

"We're seeing a workforce that by and large continues to be
discontent, that more often than not feels undervalued,
underappreciated and undercompensated," he said. To workers who
are looking around for new opportunities, he said, "the grass
is looking a lot greener."

Twenty percent of survey respondents said they were
actively seeking a job, and 54 percent described themselves as
passively job-hunting, meaning they might scan want ads, it
said. And 58 percent said they would leave their jobs if the
economy continued to improve, a 12-point increase from last
year, it said.

"The pendulum is swinging," said Laura Stack, productivity
expert and author of the recent book, "Find More Time."

"It used to be people were afraid of losing their jobs in a
down economy without being able to find another job. They had
been tolerating a lot in past few years," she said.

"Now that we're seeing job growth and an improved economy,
unemployment levels going down, workers have had it. They've
basically said, 'Enough. You've treated me badly long enough.'
I would not be surprised to see employees leaving organizations
in droves in search of a better life."

That itch to move crosses all age groups, said Robert
Morison, co-author of "Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming
Shortage of Skills and Talent."

Younger workers tend not to trust corporations after seeing
how their parents fared, mid-career workers feel stuck in dead
end jobs and older workers who want to work past retirement age
tend to want to do something different, he said.

"You've got really good motivation for employees of all
ages to be looking around," said Morison. "Employers should be
aware right now that the market's going to tighten."

Facing that tide, he added, employers might want to treat
their employees well because job-seekers have so much
information available on the Internet.

"If you're a crummy employer, word spreads fast, people can
look it up and you can't change that perception quickly," he

Companies most likely to take a turnover hit are those that
performed well during hard times and provided a safe haven for
employees who sacrificed higher pay for job security, said

"Now that the economy is becoming stable, security is less
of an issue, and some of those best people who have been in
well-run organizations are the most vulnerable to a brain
drain," he said.

Employees in the study listed competitive salary, full
health-care coverage, company-matched pension plans, bonuses,
flex-time and compressed work weeks as items that would tend to
keep them in their jobs.

Doing the research for Kronos was Harris Interactive Inc.,
which conducted the online study from July 24 to July 31 among
a nationwide cross-section of 1,051 full-time employed adults.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage