Managing People - Will Staff Turnover Increase as the UK Emerges from the Recession

Jim Riley

2nd June 2010

Employees who held tight during the recent recession in the UK might be about to leave their employers very soon - according to a new survey.

The article above has some excellent research evidence for AQA BUSS4 students looking to add some examples of how HR departments managed their staff during the recession. If the survey is correct, then the medium-term effect of imposing recruitment and pay freezes, and changes to organisational structures, is a simmering discontent amongst staff.  As conditions in the employment market improve, staff will increasingly look to change jobs, resulting in an increase in staff turnover.

A couple of thought-provoking quotes from the survey which students might consider:

>i>“It’s clear that the measures put in place to counteract the recession are hitting morale, with this being most evident in the public sector.

“It’s completely understandable why organisations have put these steps in place, but to come out stronger they need to examine the impact this is having on productivity and ultimately profitability. Securing the future success of the business is vital, but key to this must be ensuring the workforce is motivated and engaged.”

I’m always a little cautious about surveys of employees - even large ones like this (with a sample size of 4,000).  It is relatively easy in a survey to express discontent with your existing employment arrangements.  The “grass is greener” syndrome can often take over!  The “touchy-feely” HR people often love to emphasise how bad things might be if morale falls and staff all decide that they would like to leave at the first opportunity. 

Management in the UK have had to take some tough organisational decisions during the recession (and there may be much more to come if we enter a “double-dip downturn).  I suspect that an increase in staff turnover is probably a price most management are prepared to tolerate - provided that their firms are able to hang on to the most important talent.

Jim Riley

Jim co-founded tutor2u alongside his twin brother Geoff! Jim is a well-known Business writer and presenter as well as being one of the UK's leading educational technology entrepreneurs.

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