Australian companies ‘concerned’ about staff turnover

Australian businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about retaining their top talent, with evidence that there is a growing skills gap in the country.

A 2012 Australian Institute of Management (AIM) survey revealed 77 per cent of companies are lacking key skills at their organisation, including notable areas of deficiency in leadership positions.

Furthermore, AIM showed in a separate study that 56 per cent of Australian firms were worried about staff retention in 2012. This compared with 48 per cent in the previous year and 37 per cent in 2010.

This trend upwards trend shows little sign of abating. Hudson research from earlier this year found 63.7 per cent of employees are actively or passively looking for a new job, with over two-thirds looking to move companies within the next six months.

Challenges for businesses

Mark Steyn, CEO of Hudson Asia Pacific, said these issues could be problematic for a number of employers. 

He remarked: “Many employees are working longer and harder, feeling less secure in their current role and are looking for new opportunities.

“Businesses could be facing a potential triple cost scenario: the costs of a disengaged workforce, the costs of staff turnover and the costs of losing key talent.”

The primary problem identified in the Hudson study was remuneration, with personnel keen to switch roles in order to receive a pay bump. However, many were simply hoping for a more interesting job, while many want to move to an organisation that makes them happier.

Although 77 per cent of employers cited tougher market conditions in 2014 than in 2013, nearly three-quarters expected to provide pay increases of approximately 2-3 per cent during the course of this year.

Lack of leadership opportunities driving disengagement?

A key part of tackling staff retention issues is gaining an understanding of where the organisation is failing its employees.

Last year, Ernst & Young data showed that while 71 per cent of people are motivated to do their job, only 62 per cent feel their skills were being effectively used in their current position.

Importantly, just over half said they had access to the right learning and development opportunities to allow them to continuously improve.

Mr Steyn said employers need to realise that many people are keen to boost skills, advance their careers and gain new experiences – and ignoring these desires could have a negative impact on the wider business.

“We know that strong leadership impacts engagement, driving productivity and increased employee retention,” he stated.

“Revisiting leadership and development strategies for managers and leaders to ensure they are able to lead effectively in the rapidly changing marketplace is key.”

Leveraging internal resources for coaching and development

Mr Steyn's words echoed similar remarks from AIM, which said the most successful companies at filling skills gap and boosting retention are those that pursue leadership development and training.

According to the organisation, CEOs reported their companies were more likely to perform better when promoting internally (58 per cent) and showed a strong commitment to training (69 per cent).

Susan Heron, CEO of AIM VT, said the ageing population also provides businesses with opportunities they may not realise they have.

“Just 3 per cent of organisations with a skills gap are providing coaching and mentoring roles for baby boomers so they can pass on their skills to less experienced staff,” she stated.

“Similarly, there is an opportunity for more organisations to draw on the knowledge of retired and former long-standing employees through the creation of corporate alumni associations.”

Given that the Australian economy appears to be creating tougher conditions for the country's businesses, many senior executives may decide to follow successful companies' lead and re-evaluate their current talent development strategies.