As employers experience high annual turnover rates (35%), filling those positions with a skilled workforce is proving difficult.

A new study from Willis Towers Watson found that employers in emerging economies struggle to attract employees with critical skills (66%), high potential (77%) or top performance (76%).

[Image: Bloomberg]
[Image: Bloomberg]

Not only are employers failing to attract top candidates, but they are also having difficulties retaining their workforce, particularly senior and executive management.

The current workforce climate is partially to blame.

See also: Employers need to communicate benefits to attract jobseekers

Rather than making a career at one company, employees are more likely to hop from one company to another. In fact, three in 10 employees say they are likely to leave their employer within the next two years, according the 2016 Global Talent Management and Rewards and Global Workforce studies.

“Given today’s shifting workplace and how technology is disrupting jobs and labor markets, the need for employers to successfully attract and retain the best employees has never been greater,” says Laura Sejen, managing director at Willis Towers Watson. “We know from our research that employees are looking to work for organizations that offer fair pay, career advancement opportunities and job security. While employers generally understand these priorities, their views diverge from those of employees in a few key areas.”

Employers saw career advancement opportunities and base pay or salary as the top two attraction and retention drivers. While base pay or salary was also the top attraction and retention driver for employees, workers said they were more likely to join a company for job security and stay at a company for career advancement opportunities. The latter, if lacking, could leave to a brain drain of senior leadership.

See also: Women miss promotions for maternity leave: study

“Fifty-eight percent of employers say, ‘We think we’re pretty good at advancing employees’ career,’” says Sejen.

But half of employees disagree, she says, and believe they need to leave that company to progress their career.

Employees who fall at the bottom of their organization, such as manual, administrative or clerical workers, are 21% more likely to leave their current employer within the next two years.

Those employees would benefit from the company articulating and clarifying what career paths are available, says Sejen.

“Managers need to have access to that information and be coached in how to have those conversations,” she says. “Those are fairly fundamental characteristics to have a career in management.”

See also: Is skills development an untapped benefit?

Employers should instruct managers to ask questions such as: Do you feel like you have the tools you need to have effective career planning? Do you feel you’ve had effective training? What can we make available to make you feel better equipped to have these conversations?

“There’s a disconnect between what the companies think they’ve designed and made available to employees and what employees think has been designed and made available to them,” Sejen says.

If those questions aren’t being asked and those services aren’t offered, employees might feel disengaged at work or even feel like their efforts aren’t recognized.

Managers should also determine which employees have high potential for advancement and strive to make those employees feel instrumental at the organization. While some companies have specific programs to place high-potential employees, smaller companies conduct those assessments informally, Sejen says

See also: More employees receiving promotions

If employers build a pipeline to internally promote employees, Sejen recommends that managers decide beforehand if they are going to explicitly tell employees that they’ve been defined as “high potential.”

The survey also identified senior leadership as the top driver of sustainable engagement. However, less than half of employees (45%) have trust and confidence in their senior leaders.

“In addition to attracting and retaining talented employees, employers need to focus on engaging employees in order to achieve better business results,” Sejen says. “Leadership, including supervisors, managers and senior executives, plays a critical role in driving engagement among their employees.”

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