Your SAP Employees are Looking for a New Job. Right Now.

by Dave Hannon

August 16, 2013

By Dave Hannon

What would you do if three-quarters of your staff stood up and announced they were currently looking for a job and planning to leave your organization? Would you ignore it or would you take immediate action to avoid that?

Well, I have news for you -- three-quarters of your staff IS going to be looking for a job in the next year and I suspect you're not aware of it.

A survey released today by SAP recruiting firm Red Commerce found that three-quarters of SAP professionals will be looking for a new job in the next 12 months.“This is substantially higher than we have seen over the last few years, but times are good and employees are looking around for new opportunities.” said Richard Vercesi, CEO at Red Commerce in a press release.

It shouldn't be a surprise that as the market continues to improve, employee turnover is increasing. Every industry is affected by it, but the percentages in the IT industry in general and the SAP space are particularly high. According to data from the Conference Board, in the US, for Computer and Mathematical Science occupations, where there are 3.2 job ads for every unemployed person in the field last month. 

So what can you do to avoid three-quarters of your SAP staff walking out the door in the next 12 months? Here are a few tips.

1. Don't just offer training, encourage training. According to Robert Half Technology, 68% of IT workers surveyed said the ability to acquire new skills is very important when evaluating a job opportunity. Additionally, 64% of respondents said they are very concerned about keeping their skills current in the next three to five years. However, in a separate Robert Half Technology survey, 44% of CIOs said their companies do not have training and development programs for IT professionals.
So step one is make sure you HAVE the training opportunities. But simply offering training or reimbursement for training is not enough. In many organizations, workers may feel they are too busy to take advantage of training. Or in other cases, the permissions and red tape required to get reimbursed is enough to discourage them. So the key is to not just OFFER the training, but to make it easily accessible to employees.

2. Look at the wall...because the writing is on it. Don't live in denial. Some of your top-performers are looking for a job right now. Or in some cases, there has already been a mass exodus but no one is talking about it. But it's a sign. A bad sign. Simply looking for and interpreting signs of employee dissatisfaction is the first step. And if you can't do that in-person, work with your HR organization to survey your staff about job satisfaction to get a better read on things. The more you can figure out what they want the more likely you'll be able to get them to stay.

3. Benchmark. Go to industry conferences and events and talk to managers at other SAP customers and companies to find out what they've done to retain their top employees. Find out what programs, initiatives, or incentives they've used to keep employees. 

4. Do SOMETHING. If you know there is an unhappy or disgruntled staff member or group, talk to them. Meet with them. Find out what their gripe is and resolve it because their impact on the broader organization can be devastating (in baseball they call it a "cancer in the clubhouse").

I admit I am not a human resources expert and these are ideas I've simply read about or make common sense. I'd love to hear more from you about YOUR employee retention strategies. If you're the manager in an SAP organization, what are you doing to retain workers? If you're a worker looking to jump ship, what's the reason? Salary? Training? Challenge?

Post your comments on this blog and perhaps together we can brainstorm a more extensive and SAP-specific list of strategies.

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