The recruitment reality check: Your employees are leaving sometime soon!

Fingers in ears

Are you one of those companies who like sticking your fingers in your ears, while singing 'la la la' out loud. hoping that it won't happen to you? Come on, you know you are!
After all, all your staff are happy, you have a great employer brand and everything is 'nice and dandy' with your employees, right?


You need to order in some of the reality check cookies and start munching away quickly. Whatever you think you are as an employer and however loyal you think your employees are……….. think again – we have entered a very interesting recruitment phase at the moment, that doesn't appear too often.

Some economists would probably call it, 'post recessionary recruitmentism' or some other 'over-clever' mumbo jumbo ……………… for me it much simpler. I just call it recruitment reality.

We are coming out of recession (well most places are, anyway) , M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) activity is buoyant again and there is (finally) talk of large hiring strategies again. Things are already changing fast with regards to candidate availability, as recruitment markets are quickly picking up again – most recruitment agencies have been seeing a surge in demand for candidates now for the last few months. For many it is the busiest they have been for the last 2-3 years.

So what is going to happen?Here are my five 

  1. It's hemorrhage time (go on sing it to MC Hammers famous song – you know you want to!). Candidate attrition has been still running at just over 18% on average  during the recession. This would mean that you would lose one in five of your workforce this year. BUT, realistically this could double if not treble over the next 12 months, as candidates start sticking their heads above the parapet again.  – Yes! Many companies will have staff turnover rates of well over 50% in the next 12 months!!!  What are you going to do about it then?  Are you ready to replace half your workforce? Where are you going to find them from? When was the last time you looked at your career site? You need to have a recruitment strategy in place (NOW!) just to maintain your existing workforce levels.
  2. Past employers will return like Great White sharks. Remember they couldn't get rid of their employees quick enough two years ago could they?  You snapped up some great catches then, didn't you? Well, now they are leaner and meaner and ready to come hunting for your staff. And don't think your employees won't consider going back, they will for the right package – the recession has taught them to forget about loyalty (unfortunately) and focus on themselves and their own needs (perceived or real). You won't know anything about it until they are gone!
  3. Recruitment agencies are also sniffing for blood. A fact of employment life is that your good staff WILL be getting calls from recruiters, looking to prise them from your company. Ignore this fact at your peril – a good recruiter is like a pitbull – once they have the teeth into your employees, they just simply won't let go, until they get what they want – your staff!
  4. Thanks to social media it has made it even easier to find your employees!! To be fair, it has never been easier to find candidates, what with LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs and of course Google. Obviously 'finding' candidates isn't recruiting them, and that is a whole different ballgame! But, they are there waiting to be found, and there is nothing you as an employer you can do to stop that happening.
  5. Finally, what about all the 'regular ordinary workers' – your company's lifeblood -  out there, that are unhappy in their work? There are many! During the recession, they just keep their heads down, grateful for continued employment. Now the grass is looking greener again. They have started to realise that there are more jobs out in the marketplace again. They are starting to actually look for jobs again! >>> Now this is a BIG problem. These are the workers who you BELIEVE to be your loyal subjects, and happy in their work. When was the last time you said (about them) "they won't leave, they are like part of the furniture here" to a colleague? Don't say I didn't warn you – they WILL be walking out the door sometime soon!!

Now you may feel I am being a little over dramatic here – I just wish I was. I am having these conversations with companies every day – they are seeing their staff leave EVERY day, and yes they can counter offer, but that is only temporary. I read a survey last month that said 84% of all employees expect (or want) to change jobs in the next 12 months – now that is scary stuff!
Employee engagement, employer brand and (dare I say it) salary package reviews are all areas of focus at the moment, but is it too late for your company?

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  • Hi Andy

    I agree to a point but a couple of questions came to my mind upon reading :-

    1) Isn’t there a feeling in the job seeking workforce to sit tight and stay secure?

    2) Recruitment (as ever) has always been a cyclical process so if people are moving away from companies means there are more candidates in the talent pool for the market to recruit?

    I don’t know the answers to the questions above but it did make me think :o)


    PS The beeb are looking for some new serial drama writers LOL

  • Very true Lisa, there will be more people in the marketplace – there are certainly more that are now looking to move – just ask the job boards.

    Now, where was I…………………. Once upon a time there was a recruitment consultant, with an evil client… 😀

  • Employers, large and small, need to be thinking seriously about employee retention, succession planning, and replacement when (not if) it happens.

    I’m all for pre-empting the situation by deciding who my most vital staff are, and finding ways to secure them. It may mean paying a little extra, but more likely will mean giving them better security of tenure, prospects, and maybe even a stake in the company. Managed properly, this can be much less expensive than either counter offers, or losing them altogether.

    As 10CC once said, “Communication is the problem to the answer”. Keep your staff close, get them involved, and let them know as much as you can about the business. Staff that are invested in a company are far less likely to stray.

  • It all sounds a little alarmist to me.

    I’m also dubious of that 84% survey thing. I guess a lot depends on the quality of the survey, who conducted it, what type of audience it questioned and across how many. I think the reality is that people talk a lot more about getting another job than actually doing anything about it. I also don’t think there are that many really great recruiters out there that have the power to convince large numbers of senior/specialist candidates to change employers.

    I also believe that these so-called “ordinary workers” are increasingly less likely to apply for jobs that are advertised via recruitment agencies (especially those that look like no effort has been put into the ad copy), but are more likely to apply to companies direct.

  • Mitch,

    A valid point. Stats are only as good as the spin they are used for, and we all use them accordingly for that reason.
    The lazy and uninspirational recruiters (and there are too many of them) will find it harder and harder to do their job. I just hope they leave and become estate agents, asap, as the recruitment world would be a better place without them!

    There is still much procrastination in the candidate market, but without help and direction (which are lacking currently for them) it doesn’t surprise me (which is a real shame.)