Most workers lack loyalty to their jobs, survey finds

One-fourth plan to quit in 2 years

Md. reflects glum mood

Labor relations

June 01, 2000|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

Less than half of the nation's workers consider themselves loyal to their jobs, and only a fourth will stay there for two years, according to a national survey.

And a state-by-state breakdown shows the numbers are worse in Maryland, where employee loyalty is withering and jobs are plentiful.

Walker Information and the Hudson Institute, the two Indianapolis research firms that commissioned the survey, broke the bad news to about 60 human resources executives yesterday at the Center Club in downtown Baltimore and at the Hilton in Columbia.

Maryland was the 10th stop for the Walker-Hudson road show, which began after the firms collected and compiled more than 2,300 responses for their 1999 National Employee Relationship Report Benchmark Study.

The 80-question survey gauged employee loyalty in a cross-section of industries, including agriculture, technology, retail, insurance, finance, governments and nonprofits.

The survey found that, nationwide, only one in four workers plans to stay in a job two years, and 45 percent feel a strong attachment to their jobs. Even fewer - 44 percent - said they think their employer cares about them.

"There is surprise when we talk to management that the situation is this bad," said Marc Drizin, vice president of business alliances for Walker.

Drizin said the results elevate the human resources manager's role to that of hard-line negotiator, charged with keeping the company's best resources.

"A lot of companies still look at human resources as warm-and-fuzzy," he added.

The survey results are hardly comforting. Although only 56 of the 2,300 surveys nationwide were conducted in Maryland, Drizin said the results reinforce the national findings.

Sixteen percent of Maryland employees strongly disagreed that they'd put so much time into their organizations that leaving would be hard. Nationally, only 6 percent felt that way.

Similarly, 63 percent of Maryland employees liked their work, compared to 76 percent nationally.

"I didn't realize it was that bad," said Robert Gell, president of Cecil Community College in North East. In his 22 years as president, Gell, 64, has seen little turnover in the college's 120 employees. But that's about to change. He is among several employees retiring this summer.

Unlike his counterparts in technology, Gell can't offer lucrative signing bonuses or BMWs to keep his managers. Instead, he said, he empowers Cecil's workers through positive reinforcement. He arranged seminars on the teachings of Stephen Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."

The seminars have helped, Gell said, and so has his philosophy: "I find good people, get out of the way, and let them do their job."

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