Employee Retention Most Important Issue for US Employers

Opinion and Insight 62 Add to collection
B2B International's recent study finds immigration clampdown is affecting employees
Employee Retention Most Important Issue for US Employers

American employers are more worried about retaining their workforces than other major economies, new research has found.

Facing tighter immigration restrictions and an ageing workforce, 85% of American businesses said retention is the biggest human resources priority, according to a six-country survey by b2b research experts B2B International. Around two-thirds of over 900 HR and business managers surveyed said that acquiring staff is also one of the most important priorities. Only German employers see retention as being a similarly pressing issue.

Retention is a major concern across all industries, although the US construction and professional services sectors are the most concerned, with 89% saying retention is one of their biggest issues, closely followed by the manufacturing sector with 88%.

Nik Werk, VP, North America at B2B International, said: “We’re seeing an increasing number of US businesses concerned about skills shortages, especially in the manufacturing and construction industries. As the more seasoned workforce retires, these sectors are threatened by knowledge gaps and insufficient talent entering their workplace, compounded by tighter immigration policies. In recent years, we’ve conducted several research studies focused on enhancing staff skills, helping American firms maintain a competitive advantage on the global stage.”

John Mitchell, president and CEO of IPC, a global association representing the electronics industry said: “The North American electronics industry growth is slow but holding steady. Research by B2B International showed that our skills are in high demand, but lack of resources, training and materials are making it difficult to develop these skills. To support skills development as a means of fueling growth in the industry, IPC has committed to 1 million new education, training and career opportunities in the U.S. electronics industry and 500,000 in Europe over the next five years.”  

Adding to the challenges with talent acquisition, US employers are not confident in their ability to attract and retain millennials. Sixty-three per cent agree that it is 'particularly difficult' to retain millennials, and 56% consider it hard to attract this important generation. In spite of this, only 27% of US employers are taking special measures to engage younger workers, lagging hugely behind China where three-quarters are making it a priority.

75% in China are taking specific measures to attract, engage and retain Millennials and Generation Z 

Nik said: “We have also noticed a consistent theme of younger generations proactively seeking resources to support their professional development. This spans a greater focus on the likes of online courses and certifications, as well as quicker and more cost effective tools such as webinars, video and podcasts. This passion and ambition to learn presents huge opportunity for American employers to address the talent challenges they are facing.”

B2B International’s Business & Marketing Survey 2019 is based on 2,000 online interviews with business decision makers at SMEs and enterprises across a variety of functions in manufacturing, professional services, construction, retail, healthcare and hospitality. Within the research, 945 HR and Business Managers were interviewed. Respondents were based in the US, China, Spain, the UK, France and Germany.

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