Companies in recent years have woken up to the importance of retaining their key employees. As skill changes dominate labor markets, business leaders have over the years realized that retaining employees that meet key talent considerations were as important as hiring new ones. It comes as little surprise that in early 2016, reports from networking platforms like LinkedIn showed that talent retention had become an important consideration for businesses and that for business leaders across the board. It was an important priority for the year.
Fast forward to the turn of the decade and one sees that the importance of talent retention has only grown. The need to attract and retain talent in a competitive labor market will continue to intensify regardless of changes that are being brought in by technological innovations through AI and automation. But such changes to the workplace are further solidifying the need to retain key talent. Developing a distinct employment brand and fostering a strong culture to attract and retain talent aren’t new revelations, but they have never been more critical.
This is not without reason. The importance of retaining talent proves not only to be a cost-effective option in many cases, but also goes on to build a good employer brand for the company. It ensures that companies are dedicating themselves to create a company culture that helps employees remain productive and aligned with the company’s vision while enabling them to be motivated to walk the extra mile. Having low turnover rates help show companies prioritize not only their bottom line performance but also put efforts towards engaging and developing their employees. The maxim of treating employees like consumers has never been truer. But often retention ends up being a by-product of employee management practices rather than its driving force behind them.
Among the many talent considerations like hiring, reskilling and upskilling, often the retention of key employees gets swept under the plethora of other employee development activities. But it is important to note that employee retention today is an equally important task in front of both managers and HR professionals.
The relevance of company culture
To understand the how of creating an effective talent retention strategy, it's important to note what lies at the core of the issue, which can then help guide the multifaceted approach towards tackling it. Company culture is one such component. In the dynamic ecosystem that companies operate in today, it’s difficult to find a single cure to the problem of retaining employees. It has to be the result of a mixture of management practices and HR initiatives that take the well-being and development of employees into account. While an attractive compensation package remains a baseline it needs to be supplemented with future-looking practices that build employees’ buy-in to the company vision and way of working while contributing to their growth.
To do this, the first of many steps has been a cultural shift. When it comes to defining a company’s culture, it is often a mixture of both tangible and intangible components that work in tandem with each other; often improving tangible components helps better the intangibles. Policies that promote clear and transparent communication between managers and employees provide employees with career opportunities. Such initiatives have to be supported by policies like the presence of aspects like maternity benefits and flexibility in the workplace which help support employees. Such cultural considerations contribute to building an ecosystem of trust and mutual collaboration among employees and business leaders. It also helps them find a larger meaning to their work.
To understand the how of creating an effective talent retention strategy, it's important to note what lies at the core of the issue, which can then help guide the multifaceted approach towards tackling it. Company culture is one such component
Shifts in employers' perspective
The way in which employees engage with companies today is markedly different from the past. With companies today working with a multi-generational workforce, their retention and employee engagement strategies have to be diverse yet specific too. For HR professionals, this has meant to try out a range of initiatives and company policy changes to accommodate the needs and aspirations of the varied bunch of people that companies usually employ. Employee experience has become central to designing management practices, and engagement initiatives have become a priority within many companies. Managers and senior business leaders have to be brought onboard and in many cases must be actively involved in practices to motivate their employees and build a more constructive dialogue with them to help align organizational goals with personal aspirations.
Listening to employees and catering to around their demands will become an important aspect of retention strategies moving ahead. With talent becoming an important and vital part of the success equation for companies, hearing them out and addressing their demand realistically has to be a part of retention strategies. Many high performing companies also know how to effectively train and retain their key employees. By breaking down traditional silos of hierarchy, many enable their employees to make decisions and build in a level of accountability where employees become an important part of the company and not a component to dispense according to the situation.
Such shifts prove more than necessary in today's world where often ‘loyalty’ to businesses is a lesser hallmark of a qualified individual than their skills. In addition to suitable compensation and benefits packages that enable companies to retain talent, factors like inadequate work-life balance and the lack of professional development opportunities, all end up hampering the chances of a company to ensure it retains people with key skillsets.