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Why Are You Losing Talent? Because They Don’t Know You Care (and You May Not)

by Mar 19, 2014, 12:02 am ET

Why quit linkedin surveyWith the rate of voluntary quits in the U.S. approaching pre-recession levels — 22.8 percent in 2013 — it’s no surprise that in a survey last year HR professionals and talent acquisition leaders identified retention and its twin “internal mobility” as one of the five top trends.

Nearly 40 percent of the 553 U.S. recruiting leaders who took part in LinkedIn’s global recruiting survey last year said they are increasing their internal hiring volume. Globally, the percentage was even higher.

“Internal candidates are typically higher quality; plus their skills, performance, and cultural fit are known,” LinkedIn’s Leela Srinivasan told SHRM in a report the society did on the survey. The report observed that 51 percent of the talent leaders acknowledged a “need to increase candidate awareness of relevant in-house opportunities.”

Now, just a few months shy of a year later, comes a new LinkedIn survey of workers who changed jobs. And what they told LinkedIn is that the No. 1 reason they left was the opportunity for career advancement.

Shockingly, 75 percent of the U.S. workers were unaware of their previous employer’s internal mobility program. We can’t tell if awareness would have made a difference, but the statistic does point up a very significant disconnect between what workers know and what HR thinks they know.

In last year’s trends survey, 69 percent of the U.S. HR professionals said their internal mobility program “is well known among employees.” The percentages in Australia, Canada, India, and the U.K. aren’t much different. Yet in no country were more than a quarter of the job-changers aware of their company’s internal mobility program.

LinkedIn’s so-named Exit Survey speculates that the lack of aggressive promotion of these programs may be due to another disconnect between HR and the exiting worker. HR’s respondents suspect that it is pay and benefits that most motivate workers to leave. Third on their list is career advancement. The workers list pay third as a motivator.

LinkedIn 2013 recruiting trends US surveyPhil Hendrickson, Starbucks’ manager of global talent sourcing strategy, quoted in the LinkedIn report, addresses that issue squarely when he says “People need to know that their career development and growth are valued as much as, if not more than, hiring external people. That’s because you solve three things at once when you hire someone internally — you fill a role, you retain a good employee, and you improve your talent brand.”

Who would disagree with that? Yet, in reality, many in HR do. In last year’s global survey, only 32 percent of the U.S. respondents identified internal candidates as a source of quality hires. What ranked higher? Employee referrals, social networks, the company career website, and even job boards.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Richard Araujo

    “Who would disagree with that? Yet, in reality, many in HR do. In last year’s global survey, only 32 percent of the U.S. respondents identified internal candidates as a source of quality hires. What ranked higher? Employee referrals, social networks, the company career website, and even job boards.”

    In my experience it was never made a priority to develop internal talent. When it was, it was a specific manager that pushed for it. But, more often than not, it was a manager stifling their employees’ attempts to move up. One place I worked, the customer service/order entry area was considered a bit of a farm team. People would get product knowledge there and could hopefully move up in the company. However, the manager of that department would stomp on any attempt by any employee to move up. Every potential move was met with a stack of papers going back years in some cases to supposed concerns he had, but never reported nor could anyone verify in actual performance metrics. He would also turn every promotion attempt into a referendum on department salaries and would try to access everyone’s information, etc. He would certainly say the right things and pay lip service to internal development, but in his actions he was so dead set against it that eventually many of his employees gave up, and expressed as much to HR.

    Degrees of this behavior were common among most managers, it’s the rare one that actually wants an employee to move up and on. From the view of most it looks like developing your employees into promotable people guarantees you will lose them to other opportunities, internal or external. Many managers erroneously think they can build a team and then just sit on it indefinitely while it operates smoothly. They often don’t see team building and talent development as a permanent on-going part of their job. It’s something they do when they need a new body, and it starts and stops at the boundaries of their departments.

    And, as with all hires people still value a “No” vote over a “Yes” vote, even when performance is demonstrated and known. Then there is investment in training which many shy away from. For example, the people in the cs/oe department I mentioned above would often get experience reading blueprints and schematics while in their roles, but they’d often have no formal training in that area. Was any ever provided to try and capitalize on their experience? Nope.

    For most, it’s just not a priority because their employees aren’t a priority, nor are they an investment. They’re a cost, plain and simple.