Managers are so worried about their own job security, they are forgetting their greatest asset – people, an international recruiting agency says.

Companies are failing to properly manage their staff as people priorities continue to get pushed off the business radar because of the economic downturn, Robert Half International says.

“Managers have put so much emphasis on cost-cutting and delivering bottom-line efficiencies, that they’ve taken their eye off the ball and forgotten how to manage their greatest asset – their people,” Robert Half Asia-Pacific managing director David Jones said.

While there had been a drop in the number of people leaving existing jobs due to low confidence in the economy, an increasing number were leaving because of issues with their direct managers.

“Their managers are panicking, they’re so worried about their own job security that they’re cutting staff pay and benefits without good reason and in some cases, without any justification as to why,” Mr Jones said.

Many employers were taking staff loyalty for granted.

“Unless employers put their people priorities back on the business radar, companies are at risk of losing their best talent.

“It is a well-known fact that people don’t leave their company, they leave their line manager.

“So managers need to smarten up.”

They needed to appreciate the loyalty of their staff and take employees on an open and honest journey in the downturn, Mr Jones said.

“Because the better they can communicate now, the better placed the company will be when the market recovers.”

In times of an economic downturn, it was essential companies took a long-term view as business success was largely dependent on the ability of staff.

“Australia has faced a serious talent shortage in key areas such as finance and accounting for more than a decade and employers must keep this in mind,” Mr Jones said.