As businesses grow, the need to continuously hire new talent to achieve business objectives cannot be discounted. Most of the time, business growth requires the injection of additional capital and fresh talent. Attraction of top talent can be challenging especially in areas of specialised skills where a smaller brand is competing with larger more respected rivals.
However, the biggest challenge is retention, especially when you have spent a lot of resources to upskill and develop talent over years, and bring them up to a senior level, only to lose them to competition.
There are different drivers of retention and reward is not always the reason people move. Some people have actually taken pay cuts to move jobs. So as much as reward is an important factor, it is not always the secret sauce to retaining people. Unfortunately, most of us take a very reactive approach, scampering for solutions and trying to do damage control when it is already too late, and someone has made up their mind to leave the organisation.
A proactive approach should be taken in driving retention. When using a data-driven approach to deploy retention strategies, we should be careful not to blanket people together when their motivations and aspirations could be very different. Using data received at scale to make blanket decisions may not always be effective and it is important to look at individual data points of top talent.
One helpful retention strategy is building a sense of community. This is achieved by creating opportunities for people to connect at the most human level and outside the sometimes robotic and methodological workflows of the work environment. Effective leadership, which in large part involves deeply understanding each person’s drivers or motivations in your team, believing in them and thinking bigger of them than they perceive themselves is really helpful in driving actions that will get people out of their comfort zones and maximise their potential. If you think about yourself and look back at the history of your professional life, there was that one person who strongly believed in you, made you do things that scared you and as a result was instrumental to you gaining a skill or acquiring the confidence to demonstrate that skill. Being that person for each and every person in your team drives engagement and loyalty.
It’s important to be aware of the aspirations of each person in your team. An example would be if you have a brilliant engineer on your team who thoroughly enjoys photography. With this information in hand, you could write it off as irrelevant and out of scope with business goals or you could include a plan to help this person achieve their personal goals. Remember the end in mind is to retain this person because they are doing excellent work for the company. Whether or not photography is in line with business objectives is neither here nor there as this is what this person who is a top talent enjoys. A good idea may be to give them an additional goal evolving around capturing memorable moments within the organisation and building a gallery that could be used for press releases or internal communication.
The fact that you demonstrate you trust this person enough to allow them to express their artistic side within the workplace will lead to you retaining him or her for a much longer than you would otherwise have had.
Also, you will be building an ecosystem around this individual that makes work their happy place. This display of trust more often than not will also lead to increased productivity and a stronger sense of loyalty towards the organisation.
Opportunities to give back to the community by being a volunteer for causes that matter and having a good framework around that is also very helpful in driving retention especially for younger members of the team who deeply value and yearn to make a difference in their communities.
While the quality of leadership plays a big role in retention, sometimes exits have no direct correlation to that and one may simply be ready for a new adventure.