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Execs express a renewed focus on their work force

For some workers, the jobless recovery might not be jobless much longer.

In 2004, corporate recruiters and senior managers will be more focused on recruiting new workers and retaining the ones they have than they were last year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

The association’s online survey polled 362 executives and human- resource professionals in December.

The survey’s goal: to predict shifts in human-resource trends this year and compare corporate executives’ attitudes toward the people they manage.

Of those polled, 61 percent said they would focus more attention on employee retention, up from 51 percent last year. Additionally, 50 percent said they planned to recruit new employees, up from 43 percent in 2003.

In all, 58 percent said they would focus on building employee morale.

“Results indicate that across the board, 79 percent of top executives and 77 percent of senior managers agree that wisely managing human capital is ‘very’ important to the success of an organization as a whole,” the group said.

Based in Alexandria, Va., the human-resource group said the survey results suggested that employers would be spending more time on employee satisfaction and responding to workers’ demands for more flexible schedules than on layoffs and staff reductions.

“These survey results indicate a clear calling from executives and senior managers for HR professionals who understand the crucial role their contributions can play in helping an organization achieve its business goals,” SHRM President and CEO Susan Meisinger said.

Meisinger said that 63 percent of the executives and 66 percent of the senior managers polled said that it was very important to make sure that employees understand and are aligned with business goals. She noted that more executives seem to understand that employees need to feel committed to the work they do.

She added that many executives said human-resource professionals play a critical role in helping to promote employee loyalty.

Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a benefits consultancy, reports that retirees will shoulder a much higher portion of their medical costs in the future.

At the same time, the company said, the cost of health care will grow faster than most workers’ annual incomes.

In the 1980s, by contrast, employers typically paid 80 percent of their retired workers’ health insurance premiums and the retiree paid only 20 percent, Watson Wyatt said. Times have changed.

“Assuming no additional growth in life expectancies, lifetime medical expenses equaled 162 percent of median final pay for persons retiring in 2001, and will rise to 220 percent of projected final pay by 2031,” the consulting firm said.

“Future retirees whose employers offer service-related premium contributions can reduce their share of total costs by working additional years before retirement. But it will require long periods of service for these plans to come near to replacing the typical plan provided to past retirees.

“Finally, employers will retain the right to modify or eliminate these plans in the future.”

Monday, January 12, 2004 By DIANE E. LEWIS THE BOSTON GLOBE

Gary Perman is President of Perman Technical Search Group, a national search firm that specializes in recruiting Executives to Engineers in the technology industry since 1996.
If you have questions about this article, feel free to contact him at [email protected]

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Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and owns PermanTech, which specializes in recruiting technology executives, managers and engineers. He hosts an employment-technology blog.

See our Blog for Technology discussions,Interviewing advice, comments relating to IT, Software, Technology issues.