Retaining and Motivating Skilled Labor

The solution likely will be a mixture of incentive planning, cultural changes, and ongoing training and development programs.

By Stacey Harris, Vice President, Research and Advisory Services, Brandon Hall Group

Voluntary turnover is a key indicator of how effective organizations are at selecting and keeping talent. One of the most surprising findings in the recent skills gap research conducted by Brandon Hall Group, Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and Training magazine was how few of the 850 respondents—just 77 percent—knew the average voluntary turnover for their critical skilled roles. Manufacturing was the one industry exception in that 87 percent of participants were able to respond. Even if someone works in Training, Operations, or other non-HR leadership roles, it is essential to understand the voluntary turnover rates of critical workforce populations. It provides a snapshot of the environment you are trying to support. Based on SHRM’s Human Capital Benchmarking Database for 2012, the average voluntary turnover rate in 2011 was 9 percent. That number is expected to increase through 2013.

Our survey found that voluntary turnover for skilled workforces ranged dramatically, but more than 32 percent of the survey respondents said that critical skilled labor voluntary turnover rates were more than 11 percent. Voluntary turnover was highest in health care, with more than 47 percent of respondents reporting voluntary turnover in double digits.

Surprisingly, given the high voluntary turnover rates, more than 46 percent of the companies we surveyed reported no enterprise-wide plan in place for filling critical roles for skilled workers. Another 28 percent had plans for filling critical skilled labor roles in the next 12 months, and a little more than 12 percent have plans that extend out to five years.

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