It Takes More than Money to Retain Your Best Talent

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

This blog post was written in response to the May 2013 Coffee Shop HR World Café topic: “What will it take to retain the best talent over the next 5 years?”

One of the biggest challenges faced by many business leaders is the struggle to find and retain the right talent with the right skills for their organizations. According to an article The ‘8 Great’ Challenges Every Business Faces (And How to Master Them All), there are no “magic answers.”  There is no “formula with recruiting and engaging the right talent,” which makes sense as everyone is different. This month’s Coffee Shop HR question, “what it will take to retain the best talent over the next five years,” is closely related to this business challenge and is very important for HR professionals and business leaders. Finding and retaining the right talent is challenging enough already, let along retaining the best talent.

I had a few ideas in mind in terms of retaining the best talent but I really wanted to see what others would say. Instead of immediately going out to look at what other business professionals have suggested, I  took this opportunity to speak with alumni friends individuals (to avoid group think) what it would take for their employers to retain them. What truly amazed me is the fact that there was quite a bit of commonality in what they said, what I found in research and what I actually thought.

I am writing this with the assumption that the company has implemented a successful recruitment strategy, which can attract and recruit the right people with the right skills and management have the ability to identify the best talent. Here are 4 ways to help retain your best talent:

Training, Development and Growth

One of the answers that everyone I spoke with was about development and growth. Everyone mentioned the importance of having an opportunity to develop new skills and grow within the company as something very important to them in regards to retention. The inability to develop and grow seems to be a “no-no” with everyone I spoke with. As Mike Myatt stated in the article 10 Reasons Your Top Talent Will Leave You, “if you place restrictions on a person’s ability to grow, they’ll leave you for someone who won’t.” So if you want their best talent to stay and grow with your company then you need to provide opportunities for them to develop and grow, perhaps having career planning or professional development initiatives. Show that you care about them and their development.

Challenge Your Best Talent

It is very important to challenge your best talent, allow them to get creative and pursue their passion. This may mean allowing them to explore different ways of doing their daily tasks, trying different strategies for their tasks or allowing to get creative in being innovative on new initiatives, this may add value to the company they work for. For example, Google set up “20 Percent Time” for their staff to work on their own projects they like; this encourages the Google staff to be innovative and have an opportunity to exercise their autonomy.

Allow Your Best Talent to Contribute to Meaningful Work

To retain your best talent, you need to incorporate your best talent in the overall strategic plan and contribute to meaningful work. If you want to retain your best talent, give them opportunities to contribute to meaningful work and make a difference and an impact in the company. Mike Myatt stated that it is very likely that your best talent are interested in improving, enhancing and adding value to the work they do and the company they work for. Failure to allow your best talent to contribute to meaningful work will push them to leave.

Recognition / Acknowledgement

As Dan Ariely stated in What makes us feel good about our work, fail to recognize and acknowledge someone’s work is almost as bad as ignoring someone’s work. If you want to retain your best talent, it is very important to recognize and acknowledge their work. If you fail to recognize their contribution, it is “just as good as asking them to leave,” according to Mike Myatt. Also, I believe that we are so accustom to the speed of technology and immediate feedback nowadays that recognition and acknowledgement need to be made quite immediate as well.

It is challenging to find the right talent with the right skills and even more difficult to find the best talent therefore once you find them, make sure to engage and retain them. Yes, it is important for you to provide competitive compensation but you must also provide opportunities to develop and grow them, challenge them, allow them to contribute to meaningful work and provide them with recognition and acknowledgement.

Related Pages

How to Keep the BEST Ones! by Carolyn Courage, CHRP

To Retain the Best Talent: Find the Right People, Gauge Engagement, and Consider Velvet Handcuffs by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Coffee Shop HR World Café : What will it take to retain the best talent over the next five years?

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