Most People Want to Leave Their Jobs in 2011? Is That Good News?

If there ever was a statement that could make virtually every employer stop and pause, it is the title above. According to a Manpower survey, 84% of United States employees are planning on looking for a new position this year. While the figure is still alarming, it really isn’t big news at all since over 60% of U.S. workers in 2009 were on the hunt for a new job and the number exceeded 70% in 2010.

My estimate is that while probably 50%+ of currently employed people in our industry will consider a new position, the total will not come close to the 84% as indicated above. While my opinion was not sought after for the recent survey, the staggering percentage seems somewhat high. In speaking to a number of employees and employers over the past year, we have seen a small increase in the amount of ‘new’ positions offered (newly created and never before filled); and there have been more openings for ‘replacement’ jobs (hiring someone to replace one that has left due to any number of reasons).

How does this affect us here in the electrical wholesale distribution industry? Well certainly for those companies that are new, expanding or will show aggressive growth this year, it can be a great time for acquiring new talent. On the other hand, those employers or companies that aren’t, shall we say, where they should be by this time in looking back on the waning days of the recession, might end up in serious trouble. Not every company is fluid by now and it is taking some a lot longer to recover; if they have even started on the path to recovery. It is just those types of firms that need to pay special attention to their operation and their people. This goes for both manufacturers and distributors.

The reasons are not standard and vary from individual to individual. They range from unhappiness in the workplace to benefit worries (read: higher medical expenses passed along to the employee) to the alltoo- common reason of not being appreciated in their current role. Others are looking for greener pastures; whether they see those beautiful rolling hills in the new company has yet to be seen. My personal opinion is that people want something new, something different. It can be as easy as what one distributor candidate recently stated: “I just want to jump on the wagon of the company that is successful.” What he was really trying to say was that he was tired of being beaten on quotes and orders. He wanted to join the company that had the reputation of having the most victories. We can’t blame someone for having the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ mentality. We all want to win.

Laughably, does this mean that every company is going to lose more than half of their staff? If the jobseekers had their way, yes. But the Good News (see article title), and simple answer is of course, no. The 84% figure means that most people who have a job ‘want to’ or ‘would consider’ leaving. Are there going to be enough jobs to hire all of them away? Nope. Especially in our slow-growth construction world, there aren’t enough good gigs to attract all of that talent. Even David Gordon, an electrical wholesale industry leader and owner of Channel Marketing Group, is predicting a nominal 2011 with a 3-5% increase for our industry with the industrial segment in the lead with a 10% increase. There’s no way that we can see a turnover of any real magnitude with those figures.

With the above being stated, managers do need to be aware and on the lookout for potential problems that may arise within staffing. This year, issues will need to be dealt with promptly and hopefully to the satisfaction of all parties. This doesn’t mean that the employee is in control; it simply means that everyone is ‘aware’ of the current employment state. From the employee’s standpoint, they know that there is movement in the industry. That may give them the encouragement to seek other opportunities. It is the job of current managers to recognize this and act quickly it they want their team to remain cohesive.

If current electrical wholesale employees want to remain in this industry, they need to start focusing on how it is changing, year over year because the way we do business now is not the way we did it just a few years ago. Technology has changed everything. People need to identify new ways that they can become more valuable to their current companies and, yes, to future employers. Education and the desire for learning are invaluable; as long as you go ahead and do it.

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