Effectively Engaging and Retaining the Professional Workforce

  • workforce insights
  • June 30, 2011
As the economy remains uncertain, employers are continuing to grapple with staff planning and getting a handle on the evolving relationship between employee engagement and retention. Now, more than ever, employers need to know the intentions of their most talented, identify who is staying put only until the job market recovers, and what to do to improve motivation and productivity among those who seem likely to stay but aren't highly engaged. Finding ways to gain better employee "insider knowledge" and modify engagement and retention efforts are critical for companies trying to effectively optimize their workforce.

Randstad US, Professionals explored retention and engagement in a recent study, conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs in June 2011. The findings are part of the Professionals report in the Randstad Employee Attachment Index research. This unique survey looked at the different engagement levels of employees and their attitudes towards staying or leaving their current positions across five different professional industries — finance & accounting, engineering, pharma / life sciences, and IT.

The survey findings for employees in these professional industries are compared to all sectors to provide insight to further help employers design programs to cultivate and retain their top talent for the future.

key findings - June 2011


see chart segmenting sector employees based on engagement level

We have segmented the workforce into three main groups based on their individual engagement score. Employees in the engineering sector are most likely to be highly engaged while those in pharma / life sciences are most likely to show lower levels of engagement.


see chart likelihood of seeking, considering, or accepting a new job

Employees in the pharma / life sciences sector are most likely to seek, consider, or accept a new job in the next six months compared to other sectors and employees overall. Four in ten employees overall say that they are likely to give a lot of consideration to, or accept a job with another company if offered, while a third indicate that they are likely to proactively seek another position in the next six months.


see chart reasons for considering changing jobs in the next 6 months

Inadequate pay is the top factor that motivates employees - particularly those in the finance sector - to consider working for another company, followed by high stress levels and lack of opportunity for advancement. Of those who selected excessive workload as a main driver on leaving their job, Healthcare was the group most likely to leave. In the categories "lack of opportunity for advancement" and "lack of stimulation as drivers to find a new job", pharma / life sciences was the group most likely to select these as reasons to leave.


see chart employees in the IT sector tend to have a more positive outlook on the future

Compared to other sectors, those in the finance sector show relatively positive attitudes when it comes to building value in employees and that their company is making the right investments now for the future. Employees in the IT sector tend to have a more positive outlook, particularly when it comes to believing management is making the right staffing decisions and that their company is hiring the right types of managers. In contrast, those in the pharma / life sciences sector tend to be the least likely to agree with these statements.


a snapshot of professional industries


see chart Finance & Accounting

Thirty four percent of employees in finance & accounting are somewhat to very likely to seek another position in their current organization.


see chart Information Technology (IT)

Employees in the IT sector are more likely than employees overall to feel inspired to do their best (87 percent vs 78 percent). IT employees also trust their leadership to make good decisions, 11 percent more than employees overall.


see chart Engineering

The top motivator for employees in the engineering sector to leave for a different position is the lack of opportunity for advancement. This makes engineering one of the few sectors where inadequate pay is not the top reason for switching positions.


see chart Pharma / Life Sciences

Inadequate pay is the top motivator for employees in pharma / life sciences but the lack of opportunity for advancement is 15 percent higher than the average among other employees, indicating a desire among pharma / life science workers for improvement in this area.


see chart Healthcare

A majority of employees in the healthcare sector (85 percent) are inspired to do their best, ranking 7 percentage points higher than employees overall. However, just two thirds of Healthcare employees trust their organizations’ leaders to make good decisions, feel that their organization shares their values, and feel that their efforts are recognized and valued. (see the full healthcare report)