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

Mar 19, 2014
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

With 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.

Phil 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 part of a series called News & Trends.