Retaining Key Talent in a Post-Pandemic Future

Meeting

Many businesses are facing a talent shortage and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find and secure top talent.  This challenge will likely continue for an indefinite period of time as we deal with all the reality and trends with today’s talent market.  More than ever, we recognize that employees are our most valuable asset and replacing them is not only costly, but time consuming as employers are genuinely struggling to find and secure the right talent.  When vacancies remain open, managers are forced to juggle multiple tasks whilst relying on their employees to try and pick up the slack left by unfulfilled positions.  It takes time to recruit and train and this can become a draining cycle when turnover is high.

The pandemic has taught us key lessons for both the employer and employee.  Video calls have become the collaboration norm and continue to be leveraged for everything from interviewing, training, meetings, retirement farewells, etc.  Employee perspectives on work and culture have also changed.  Employees place more value on working for organizations that have strong organizational culture and seek jobs that are both stimulating and rewarding.

Many of us are now forced to engage in an ongoing ‘War for Talent’ and have at times found we are too slow to respond to a potential candidate due to inefficient and drawn-out hiring practices.  When there are too many steps or too many levels in the approval process, it can unfortunately lead to a candidate accepting a competing job offer.  Due to a strong candidate’s market right now, competitive HR talent professionals are succeeding by learning to be more creative and flexible in their hiring, on-boarding and compensation packages.  However, turnover prevention is also critical as every employee retained reduces the load on the entire recruitment process.

Determine whether your high performers are highly engaged

We sometimes assume that our top potentials are highly engaged because they are performing well but this might not necessarily be the case.  It may surprise you that they are still performing at a high level but are looking for another job opportunity.  Even if they are working harder and smarter than their colleagues, they still want to be recognized, rewarded and stimulated in their jobs.  If your high potential employees end up leaving your company, then its likely due to the fact you are not doing enough to keep them engaged and motivated.

Employers should ask the question what keeps their top talent satisfied.  What inspires them?  What makes them want to stay?  During your stay interviews, try asking your employees what would cause them to take on a job at another organization.  This question will help you determine top priorities and what is essential for them to be satisfied and remain with the company.  Take the time to conduct exit interviews and learn from the feedback obtained.  It’s important to understand why your top performers quit in order to prevent others from leaving.

Make every effort to keep your high potentials engaged and not take them for granted based on their performance and productivity.  This should include involving them with strategic and tactical brainstorming and business problem solving.  Pay careful attention to their levels of engagement and check in with them regularly to make sure they understand they are valued.  Make sure they are getting the training and development they need to keep them growing and stimulated. 

Re-evaluate your high potential program

An organization can get creative with the branding of your high potential program in order to launch with buzz and excitement.  They can be simple but structured programs designed to help provide additional knowledge, skills and competencies.  Be clear of the overall goals and objectives of the program and ensure that the employees participating also have a clear understanding of the outcome and mutual expectations.

Beware that it can be counter-productive if time and effort isn’t taken to properly focus on program content and delivery, and to ensure purpose and alignment with organizational goals and objectives.  Managers may be under pressure to provide names of their high potentials and map out their career journey in order to satisfy head office requests for annual reporting. Significant plans and programs are presented to their steering team with selection rushed and individuals are quickly chosen without proper thought and discussions on individual development aptitude, interest and ambitions. Make sure to properly think through the evaluation of employees as the wrong process can ruin the credibility and effectiveness of the program.

Often effort is invested in program rollout but unfortunately little happens after the wrap and closure.  Allow opportunities for the high potentials to practise their newly acquired skills to keep them challenged and motivated.  It’s important to involve them with diverse learning experiences but be sure you understand exactly what they want and align development to business strategy.

Best practices for developing and retaining top talent

  • Top management should be involved in identifying and developing future leaders.  High potentials will thrive in an environment when they get the opportunity to be coached and mentored by the senior team.
  • Strengthen the link between the employee’s personal aspirations and the company’s plans for growth.
  • Review top talent on a semi-annual or annual basis to ensure goals are aligned and engagement levels are where they should be.
  • Be more creative when it comes to the high potentials work schedule and compensation package.  Many competitors are offering a hybrid work structure which is an attractive hiring incentive.  Offer rewards that employees will appreciate rather than for example a gift that they will just put away in a drawer. 
  • Recognition should be on-going and tied to specific actions.  A thank you note, public recognition, time off, paid lunch, etc., goes a long way and is essential to employee engagement.
  • While other benefits besides compensation are crucial, being paid fairly and competitively is also a must in retaining top talent.
  • Provide fun filled activities that will promote team building and improve overall morale.
  • Conduct surveys to find out why employees are leaving but also consider doing ‘Stay Interviews.”  Use this information to develop strategies for retention.

Acquiring talent in today’s market has been very challenging for most, but retaining your current talent is equally critical to business efficiency and performance. Even if you do offer competitive wages and benefits, don’t assume your top talent are engaged.  Make sure your employees are being fairly challenged, recognized appropriately and consistently developed.  Take the time to better understand your employees and what makes them happy.

Contact Bridge Legal and HR Solutions for practical guidance on providing HR advice and support – (647) 794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca 

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