Retention of Talent – How do your fare? by Liz Watt

One of the key issues facing businesses today is attracting the right talent, especially in niche markets, and vast amounts of time and money are spent on creating a compelling brand to lure the brightest and the best to say ‘yes’.

However, what happens then? Do your company’s brand values, so carefully constructed in attracting talent, follow through once the honeymoon period is over? Research conducted by Universum to determine what the best global employers are doing to convince workers to join, and crucially to stay with them, found that most companies admit to focussing on the hiring and on-boarding experience, rather than ongoing people management and the employee life-cycle.

At a time when employers face the dual pressures of both needing to retain deep sector skills embodied in their experienced employees, whilst at the other end of the spectrum keeping the attention of their Millennial hires, devising a talent retention strategy should clearly be high on the agenda.

But is it?

So what elements help retain talent? Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t ‘all about the money’. Of course, remuneration is a key element of any talent attraction programme – people want to feel that they are being offered a competitive remuneration package that is fair and properly reflects the work they do.

And of course, people want to feel challenged and excited by their work and see that there is a career path ahead of them. In my experience, they also want to feel that they are working in an environment where they have a ‘voice’, that their opinions are listened to and acted upon, and that they are treated fairly and equally.

One of the biggest challenges in employee retention though is balancing the requirements of a multi-generational workforce – Millennials at one end, and at the other end, those who may well be working well into their 60’s and beyond. Add into the mix ambitious Generation X folk, career returners and employees taking parental leave and you have a truly diverse working population. This is great on many levels, as it brings a rich blend of experience to the workplace, but the challenge for the employer is to understand the requirements of each of these groups and offer them the incentives and support that will retain their talent, and all the while creating a harmonious workplace environment that fairly supports all. No mean feat!

As 24/7 working lifestyles have become the norm, employees are increasingly looking for an employer who will recognise the challenges this brings and support them in managing the balance of their work and personal lives. This reaches across generations. Examples of strategies demonstrating a commitment to retention include:

  • The quid pro quo for being available 24/7 is that the individual has access to first rate technologies and systems to ensure easy access to work as and when needed. The ability to work flexibly without raising eyebrows about commitment, treating employees as adults with the capacity to manage their work and domestic commitments in a responsible fashion.
  • An effective and far reaching wellness programme that offers real support – so this doesn’t just mean a fruit bowl on the desk and the occasional talk about mental health. It means a properly thought through programme that has C-suite backing and demonstrable options to support physical, mental and financial wellbeing at all life stages. Forward thinking employers are offering a pot from which the employee can select the options that are best suited to their particular circumstances, and that support their personal health and wellness goals. Making it easy to access this through effective digital programmes is crucial.
  • A diversity and inclusion programme that supports everybody within the organisation, and crucially, that the actions of the business are in line with the public statements that the business puts out on its website and social media platforms. Pay lip service to this issue at your peril!
  • The opportunity for continued learning and development. This doesn’t necessarily mean technical or job-related training. It could be a programme that supports personal development in an area of interest to the individual, development of language skills, Executive Coaching, soft skills training – the list is endless. The key point is that the opportunity for life-long learning is proven to have long term physical and mental health benefits, and to increase loyalty.
  • Tailored support at key ‘points of change’ – for example, preparation for promotions and support once promotion is achieved, post maternity / paternity leave, return from long term health absence, pre-retirement planning.

Employee retention is a constantly evolving issue and one that the best employers, whatever their size, are playing close attention to.

We are operating in a resource constrained environment that is set to get tougher. The blurring of lines between work and personal life means that the workplace experience has to be different, and a multigenerational workforce means that a ‘one size fits all’ strategy is no longer enough. So whatever your business size and budget, it is vital that you think creatively about how you retain the talent you have fought so hard to attract.

If you would like to review your retention strategies in more detail, please contact me for a confidential discussion :


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