Most of Your Workers Want a Job Somewhere Else

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Are companies starting to get more aggressive to retain top talent?

That would be something of a departure. They had all the leverage in the world from 2008-13, when unemployment was high and most employees put off looking for a better career landing spot.

That's not the case now.

A study from CareerBuilder says career professionals are starting to get itchy in their current posts: 77% of full-time employed workers are open to or looking for new jobs, according to the study.

Most employees are using job boards (69%), company career sites (83%) and traditional networking strategies (75%) to canvass the job market, and companies are beginning to catch on and act before it's too late to save a valued staffer or manager.

Take the legal industry.

According to Robert Half Legal, the industry is in the midst of a burgeoning "war for talent" in which legal firms "are much more likely to extend a counteroffer to a valued employee" who says he or she is leaving the firm.

Half says 28% of legal firms surveyed said they were much more likely to make a counteroffer to keep a key employee in 2014, compared with 13% last year.

The sweeteners law firms are using include stronger compensation (55%), flexible work schedules (56%) and increased training programs for employees (67%), Half says.

But analysts at Robert Half Legal say counteroffers usually don't work, and employees, though flattered, wind up walking out the door anyway.

"As much as firms want to retain valued employees, counteroffers are rarely a good retention strategy," says Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. "Many managers make them on impulse to avoid disruptions to workflow, service levels or client relationships. But all too often they backfire and the employee ends up leaving after a short time anyway."

Companies that extend counteroffers can "poison the well" for other employees, establishing a precedent that can leave "lasting repercussions if others learn you have sweetened the pot to keep a fellow employee. It can lead team members to question their own compensation, Half says.

Also, employment sweeteners such as advanced training and flex schedules may cover over underlying problems that drove the employee to leave in the first place. Left unaddressed, those problems will still be there if the employee remains, even with a fatter paycheck in hand.

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