Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Another survey on employee retention. Another load of nonsense.

Like all of you, my e-mail inbox is regularly filled with the 21st Century equivalent of advertisements for snake oil.

Personally, I'm not in the habit of sending off for miraculous herbal medicines, teeth whitening compounds or guaranteed weight loss treatments. Nor am I generally inclined to provide my personal banking details to charming gentleman from Nigeria who (for some unfathomable reason) wishes to deposit large sums of money into my account.

I tend to regard these too-good-to-be true offers with a healthy dose of scepticism and suspicion.

But I am becoming convinced that many of my colleagues in HR must be taken in by such incredible offers if recent news items are anything to go by.

The particular item that has led me to this conclusion is the widely circulated report that apparently 59% of British employees are seriously considering leaving their current job.

Hay Group: Employee engagement and enablement critical as companies face mass employee exodus in 2010

Readers of HR Case Studies will (of course!) be aware that a similar survey in January of this year indicated that a mere 33% of employees were dreaming of pastures new. Why the figure has almost doubled in six months isn't addressed in the Hay report, but then cross-referencing against earlier surveys isn't a regular feature of such pseudo-sociological studies, is it!

HR Case Studies: Bumper year ahead for HR Professionals and Recruiters

To save readers the trouble of recalculating the impact of the Hay survey (should the the highly unlikely predictions prove to be correct), here's what we all have to look forward to:

According to the International Labour Organisation, the general level of employment in the UK amounts to 29,475,000 individuals aged 16 and over.

That therefore means that if 59% of this population moves jobs, 17,390,250 individuals will be on the move in the second half of 2010.

Assuming that the mass exodus only starts on July 1st, that means that this year 95,289 posts will need filling each and every day (with a corresponding number of exit interviews and inductions). Cancel the holiday, HR Managers!

That's 476,445 “Sorry you’re leaving” and "Good luck in your new job” greetings cards cards to be sent each week. (Note to self: must buy shares in Clinton's Cards)

Even continuing to assume that each departing employee receives the stingiest of leaving presents (a Parker Jotter Ball Pen (stainless steel with chrome plated trim, priced £3.49)) this still amounts to a boost of £60,691,972 to the economy.

Perhaps the new UK coalition government have missed a trick here in not increasing tax on beer, as if each departing employee invites 10 colleagues for a swift pint at the local pub to mark their departure, that’s 173,902,500 pints of beer to be commemoratively swilled away. At an average price of £2.60 per pint, that’s a staggering £452,146,500.

We all need to feel the deepest sympathy for the growing community of cyber-recruiters. Assuming a miserly 20 applications for each vacancy that needs filling, that’s still 347,805,000 CVs to sift during the course of the year. Sorry candidates: if you think the service you get from recruitment consultants is rubbish now, just wait until the pace heats up!

Clearly all the above is an entire fiction, dreamed up in the over-fertile imagination of a marketing consultant in a company that would love such a forecast to become reality.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if, when the responses to such a survey were analysed, the commissioning organisation took off the rose tinted spectacles, furrowed the brow and expressed a degree of disbelief in the results?

Perhaps it would be too optimistic to expect them to accept that the survey had been so poorly constructed that the results were utterly worthless.

But no, the silly questions were asked, the silly responses given, so the silly report needs to be unleashed on a credulous population.

So, my dear HR colleagues, can I make a plea for a modicum of restraint before passing on such "interesting" but nevertheless pointless examples of essentially advertising copy?

If such restraint eludes you, just send me details of your bank account, and in return I'll forward you a packet of my patent restraint-increasing tablets. Any similarity to Trebor Mints is purely coincidental.

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