As millions of baby boomers approach retirement age, employers should be giving thought to replacing them with the best possible workers. In addition, they need to focus on retaining their top performers, who, surveys show, are increasingly ready and willing to jump ship for something better. It has all the making of a perfect storm for human resources managers.

Some solid advice and thinking on the subject is on the way. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is sponsoring a fall conference that will bring together some of the leading researchers and practitioners in talent attraction, development and retention.

The Leading Edge Consortium will be held Oct. 27-28 in Charlotte, N.C. SIOP is the premier organization of industrial and organizational psychologists in the world.

"Talent attraction and retention are key issues facing management, which makes this Consortium a timely one,” says Fritz Drasgow of the University of Illinois and general chair of the event.

He said a group of presenters with a wealth of experience and knowledge
in the recruitment, development and retention of talent will provide useful strategies and tactics. “Moreover, this is an interactive event that will bring together both practice and science and give participants ample opportunity to talk with presenters and each other,” he added.

Keynote speakers for the two-day SIOP conference will be William Macey, CEO of Valtera Corp., a Chicago-based management consulting firm; Robert Eichinger, CEO of Lominger Ltd., a consulting organization in Minneapolis, and Leslie Joyce, vice president and chief learning officer of Home Depot.

In addition, the conference will include modules on innovative practices in the best companies to work for; strategies in talent management; attracting and retaining diverse talent; emerging practice and research trends; state of the art practices in talent development, and talent management from an international perspective.

The 2005 Emerging Workforce Study, conducted by the Florida-based recruiting and staffing company, found that fewer than one in five employers is positioned for the future to recruit and retain top talent.

The study also showed key differences between workers and employers on issues that affect retention. For example, nearly two-thirds of workers rated time and flexibility as key factors in staying on the job but only 35 percent of employers felt they were important issues.

In fact, according to the study, only 34 percent of HR managers consider employee turnover and retention as a major concern.

Yet, many managers are seeking to slow down turnover rates, which in some industries borders on the chronic and is always costly. Some companies say that replacing a departing employee costs the company about a third to a half of that employee’s pay.

And workers’ wants and needs have to be considered like never before. An uncaring supervisor, a mean colleague, unsatisfactory work assignments or a stifling corporate culture are only a few of the reasons why workers look for greener pastures.

In fact, some companies may need to fine-tune their corporate cultures to adapt to a changing work force.

It all means challenging times ahead for executives in human resources, organizational development and other executives for whom talent management is a priority.

For more information about the consortium, visit http://www.siop.org.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is an international group of 6,300 industrial-organizational psychologists whose members study and apply scientific principles concerning people in the workplace.