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More than 75% of business underskilled

FEWER than a quarter of Australian businesses have staff with the critical skills and capabilities to guarantee an organisation’s competitiveness, Drake Management Con-sulting research has found.

According to the research, high levels of staff turnover are to blame.

More than 70 per cent of businesses surveyed said staff turnover had passed the point of acceptability and they were starting to feel the pinch.

Drake executive consulting national manager Chris Meddows-Taylor said the research showed companies were experiencing a backlash to the past decade’s downsizing activities.

“We now have a workforce that is extremely mobile and has little workplace commitment and loyalty. Any loyalty is to themselves,” Mr Meddows-Taylor said.

“Today’s workers are also better educated and more entrepreneurial than they were a decade ago.

“The average employee now spends less than four years with the same organisation.

“In fact, predictions are that those entering the workforce in the late 1990s will have changed employers nine times by the time they are thirty-two.”

Mr Meddows-Taylor said companies were losing employees with knowledge skills and capabilities critical to their future success.

“They are also finding it difficult to sustain long-term relationships with clients and their image in the business community is suffering irreparable damage as a result.”

Recruitment Solutions executive director Greg Savage said Australian managers seemed to find it difficult to understand the concept of staff retention.

“If they lose a computer system they understand that. It’s a hard asset loss,” Mr Savage said.

“They can’t seem to grasp the importance of losing knowledge assets. They have to recognise key people cannot be taken for granted. Retention of a company’s best people has to be the focus.”

Mr Meddows-Taylor said local and US research showed the key to reversing the staff turnover trend was to offer an employment deal making commitment a two-way process between employer and employee.

The deal has to be based on what both parties need from the other and what can be realistically delivered.

Mr Meddows-Taylor said it was important employers painted a clear vision for their company as well as define the organisation’s mission and culture.

“There is a real need for CEOs to actively walk the talk and win the hearts of employees on this issue,” he said.

“Drake research shows up to 66 per cent of Australia’s workforce has little or no understanding or commitment to organisational values.

“Employees are demanding to know the future direction of their employers and how they fit in the overall plan – how their everyday activities can foster this intent,” he said.

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