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Hay Group survey calls for new solutions

By Susan Seitel

The event in Boston was both tragic and traumatic, and, like everyone we know, our eyes were focused there. So we almost missed it when The Hay Group released the news about its latest work-life research. They completed their survey last year and compared it to the 2011 poll.

Fortunately, we caught it – because this research may be the most critical of the year for those interested in improving business results, and we wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.

Here are a few of the headlines:

  • The number of employees reporting poor work-life balance went up instead of down (39% in 2012 vs. 32% in 2011).
  • More than half of employees say there are not enough people to do the work in their area.

Those two go together, and neither is a big surprise. For the past three years, many companies, under severe economic pressure, have ignored their commitment to their employees and done whatever they needed to in order to stay alive, even if it meant too much work for too few people. Understandable. But now it’s time to stop and take a look at how people really feel about working for you. How do you want them to feel?

More employees from companies with good work-life programs believe their employers can attract talent more easily (71% compared to 45% of employees in companies with “laggard” work-life programs).

  • More employees from companies with good work-life programs believe they are fairly paid (58% vs. 36% of those in companies ranked low in work-life balance).

These two also go together, and demonstrate clearly what an amazing difference good work-life programs can make. Will you be hiring in the coming year? Do you need top talent? How are you planning to attract those who happen to have a life?

  • More employees who believe they have poor work-life balance are planning to jump ship within the next two years (27% vs. 17% with no complaints about work-life balance).

Of all the results, one might argue that this is the most critical for anyone who cares about the bottom line. The release points out that if an organization has 10,000 employees, reducing turnover by just 10% over two years would result in savings of $17.5 million, assuming an average salary of $35,000 and an average replacement cost of 50% of salary. Fifty percent sound too high for replacement cost? Of course it depends on the position, but the American Management Association estimates the cost of hiring and training a new employee might actually be as high as 200% of annual compensation. Costs include customer service disruption, emotional costs, loss of morale, burnout/absenteeism among remaining employees, loss of experience, continuity, and “corporate memory.”

And in case you’re wondering if The Hay Group polls enough people to make a difference, a paragraph at the end of the release says their data is comprised of responses from more than 5 million employees working in more than 400 organizations worldwide.

Says principal Mark Royal, “Organizations across the globe continue to ask their employees to ‘do more with less’, leading to increasing dissatisfaction with work-life balance. Employees are working longer hours with more erratic schedules than ever before.” And he adds, “To address work-life balance issues and lessen the workloads of top employees, organizations need to develop fundamental solutions.”

Amen to that!


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