I was excited to see all of the information produced in the 2017 Momentum: State of the Workforce Survey, MOmentum-2017 by the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board and Missouri Job Center. The survey covered the seven-county Ozark Region of Green, Christian, Webster, Polk, Taney, Stone and Dallas counties.
The survey was conducted by Opinion Research Specialists, LLC of Springfield, Missouri. According to the executive summary, there were 576 completed surveys of businesses, nonprofit, government and educational institutions with a 95% confidence interval and a +/- 4% margin of error. Nearly 89% of the respondents where from Green, Taney and Christian counties.
Being a workforce development consultant and provider of multiple workforce training programs, I found the information informative and very revealing of the issues our schools and businesses are facing every day. While the survey indicates 55% of the organizations plan to hire additional full time employees over the next several years, 72% are having difficulty filling open positions.
With such a high percentage of businesses struggling to fill positions we must reconsider the important issue of employee retention and the real cost of turnover. While there are various reasons for the difficulty of filling these positions, we must consider how to improve current employee retention and address the clearly identified areas of deficiency that exist in students at all levels and the workforce at all levels.
Retention and Turnover Costs – Reviewed Again
Let’s start with the costs of turnover and poor retention performance. These costs and the negative impact for any organization can be staggering. Employee engagement and retention is not a new topic but it continues to be an issue that requires business leaders to engage and improve. As the 2015 DeLoitte Survey showed, employee retention was one of the top and most urgent challenges facing business leaders and the most recent data shows it is still an open issue that must be resolved.
Many people become numb when they repeatedly see various reports and studies about high turnover cost data. Some find it difficult to grasp and will challenge the numbers and statistics and call it all into question. It must be understood that the costs analysis regarding turnover includes both hard and soft cost.
I find that most people who question the various studies have not had an analysis performed of their own turnover and retention costs. And after some conversation, they agree that their own costs are high and painful. In any situation, I suggest an actual turnover cost analysis be performed so each company has a clear understanding based upon their data.
So once again, here are some brief reminders of the painful costs of poor retention levels. The University of Missouri Extension reported the replacement cost of a $7.65 per hour minimum wage employee was over $5,000. Does that seem high for you? Ok, let’s say it is only $2,000 for you. Is it worth providing proper training and development programs that would improve your employee retention? InView Consulting can assist you in gaining a clear understanding of your employee retention data and related costs.
Other studies such as those provided by SHRM indicate that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, the average costs are 6 to 9 months’ salary. For a manager making $40,000 per year that would be from $20,000 to $30,000.
Greatest Areas of Deficiencies – Soft Skills
The 2017 State of the Workforce Survey asked questions concerning the greatest concerns employers had. The survey revealed a common theme for high school graduates, community college and vocational school graduates and for four-year college degree graduates in the area of deficiencies and workforce preparedness. For each group, the survey asked the respondent to provide a letter grade to evaluate the level of preparation as it related to the graduating student’s ability to perform the jobs for which they were hired.
After giving the grade, they were asked to answer this question, “what in particular stands out as deficient?” Amazingly, it was the same problem areas as identified for the current employees on another question! It is SOFT SKILLS!! The most common responses regarding students at any level included work ethic, lack of communication skills, people skills and soft skills in general.
When evaluating the responses for current employees, it was concerning to see all of the areas the employers listed. In general, it was the same as the graduating students. It was even more alarming to realize the employers seem to be doing very little to fix the problems by investing in real workforce development training in the area of soft skills.
Soft skills include, but not limited to, communication skills, teamwork, collaboration, adaptability, problem solving, conflict resolution and interpersonal communication such as basic people skills. Soft skills are a combination of personal social skills, habits and attitudes that make them a good employee.
The survey asked respondents to indicate whether most, some or none of their employees needed improvement in particular areas. Here are the stats when we combine the answers from the “Most” and “Some” responses who needed improvement in the area of soft skill development.
Time Management – 92%
Leadership – 98%
Interpersonal Relations – 86%
Teamwork – 83%
Adaptability/Flexibility – 82%
Work Ethic/Habits – 85%
Professionalism – 83%
Basic Listening Skill – 81%
Action Is Required to Improve the Results
While tech skills may get a person an interview, the soft skills will get them the job and help them keep it. Our educational systems must address this missing component of soft skill development and the employers must do the same. Doing so will improve retention rates, reduce turnover cost, improve business culture (the personality of the business as a whole) and improve the low rate of engaged employees. Addressing these issues with a proper discovery process and organizational assessments that leads to a workforce development strategy for all levels will result in a more productive workforce and a more enjoyable workplace. It’s time to act.
InView Consulting specializes in multiple workforce development and training programs for employees at all levels. Contact us to learn how we can help you see real results in your workforce.
Jay Brinegar , President and Senior Consultant of InView Consulting, is responsible for the development and implementation of various workforce development programs for all levels of employees within an organization. Jay has a background in sales training, coaching and employee development programs that spans over 35 years. Today, his experience and background is allowing him to focus on helping people better understand themselves and the people they work with in order to build cohesive teams that are more productive and efficient.