One in three employees is ready to walk

"Hello, I must be going." With employee loyalty hitting a three-year low, this might be the rallying cry of more and more employees in the coming months.

In its 9th Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends, MetLife reports that one in three workers hopes to find a new job in the next 12 months. And they're confident they'll be successful in their search. According to another study (this time a survey by,  four in 10 self-employed, full-time and part-time workers believe it's "likely" they will secure a job that matches their experience and salary in the next six months.

Many factors are to blame for the morale free-fall, including stagnant wages, busted bonuses, longer hours and heavy workloads. The combination is stressing employees out and testing their loyalty to their current employers.

"Businesses are understandably focused on expenses," says Ronald Leopold, vice president of MetLife's U.S. business."But they're taking their eye off the ball with human capital issues, notably what drives employee satisfaction and loyalty."

So now what? Do you resign yourself to the situation at hand -- or get serious about boosting employee satisfaction? Are you ready to tip the balances in favor of your employees, especially those you'd hate to see leave?

Let's dip into the HR Forum vault for some great ways to boost employee morale no matter how tight the budget:

First, give 'em what you can. Even if it's a 1% raise or a one-time bonus, let the hard-working double-duty working employees you still have know you are stretching the limits to give them SOMETHING. Remember, a flat wage means your employees are actually losing money year after year. (A caveat -- make sure your pay increases for senior management are just as flat as those in the rank-and-file. They will find out, no matter how closely you try to guard that secret!)

Second, reward them with cost-free pats on the back. Let them take some time (during work hours, and of course, paid) to learn a new software, take a personal interest class at a local college or community center, or volunteer for a favorite charity. For the parents, make school assemblies, musical productions and end-of-the-year award ceremonies something they can attend without using their leave time. Boost their paid vacation time by one day, or declare their birthdays (or the next working day after it) a paid holiday for each employee.
Next, work on what they're called. Give them a title that honors all that they do, even if the pay isn't there just yet. Of course you have to make sure the titles don't get your business into trouble with FLSA rules, but even within those guidelines, there is plenty of room for more impressive (and morale boosting) job labeling.

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