Talent Retention Strategies

by on 11/03/2010

Howard MayesThis article looks at the place of talent retention strategies within today’s economic environment and explores the overwhelming benefit to implementing a strategy to support this and the potential cost to believing complacency and the recession are talent management tools in themselves.

It will also explore the challenges facing organisations who have adopted these strategies and how you can start to address the changes needed to maintain your competitive advantage.

  • Why is talent retention more important than ever?
  • What is the real cost of not taking action?
  • What opportunities are created?
  • What are the consequences of failure to action and how to learn from those who have gone before?

How will you retain the talent within your business?

“At a time when one in four Londoners are already considering leaving or moving jobs, there is a growing need to retain talent and not alienate it- particularly as skills shortages are still a problem.” London Evening Standard: Business Section, 20th January 2010.

Communication is the key. Unless you engage your talented people and empower them your strategy will never be as effective as you originally wanted.

Doing some research in readiness for creating Quin~essence’s own blog strategy, I came across a couple of articles which were written at the time the world went into financial meltdown.

“If the talent drain has not cast its shadow over your business yet, it likely will. Big four international consulting group, Deloitte’s has predicted the available workforce will shrink by 15% before 2008. Equipped with this information, and other similar studies, many companies are rushing to implement retention initiatives. Not surprisingly, without practical strategies in place, there’s been little effect.” Paul Davis, 28th September 2007.

There is growing evidence to suggest that retention rates worsen in response to the implementation of talent management strategies and a survey conducted by the Hudson Institute goes further to suggest that we should not only be concerned about who we are losing, but who remains on the payroll. Out of 2000 employees surveyed:

  • 33% planned to leave within two years
  • 39% were trapped / uncommitted and intended to “stay anyway”
  • 24% were committed and planned to stay for 2 years

Despite evidence to the contrary, many strategies are failing because the emphasis they place on individual motivators for success are misguided and talent management as a business value is not being lived in reality. What this means is that ill thought through strategies are being implemented on an inconsistent basis without accurate information on how to get the best from individuals and how this is communicated is being lost in translation horizontally and vertically across the business.

In short, a lot of time and energy is spent without any return on investment.

Paul Davis identifies the main problem with centring your retention strategy on money: “people soon spend it; people soon forget they have got it; and people soon want more. The best advice I’ve heard about money as an incentive is ‘pay people fairly, and then stop talking about money’”.

It is clear that accurate, concise management information needs to form the foundation to a successful strategy that is based within budget and which addresses the real motivators in your business. It is also evident that how this is communicated, at all levels and how these ideals are lived in operational reality is vital to its success.

Oh… please remember that complacency and the recession are not talent management tools in themselves!

The initiatives you once implemented to retain your talented staff are more important to implement now in a recession than at any other time. The skill shortage is becoming more evident and changing demographics mean your employees will explore a much wider set of opportunities than ever before reaching far beyond their salary.

If you fail to communicate your plan for the business you will be left with workforces who do not feel empowered to effect business strategy and the potential of your business will be undermined by people who either do not feel their contributions are valued or by individuals who will be looking to work for organisations who do. So it is essential to ensure you recognise who is important in your business in the good times and the bad.

I believe that many large corporates are already beginning to revise their strategy. The challenge is for the mid-tier SME market to get their houses in order.

I have teamed up with Covent Garden based training consultancy Learn Purple and am offering the opportunity of a complimentary engagement survey. Contact me at howard.mayes@quin-essence.com or on 07774 936 236.

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