Talent retention: four ways to ensure you keep those you worked so hard to attract.

31 May 2023

Talent retention: four ways to ensure you keep those you worked so hard to attract.

Great talent can change the game, so how do you ensure that you get the most out of your game-changers for as long as possible?

The knowledge economy has changed the talent game. The people who possess a rare expertise and skills have seen their value and influence skyrocket. They can, in some cases, make or break companies.

This is in a world where, in a recent labor market report, the Economy Ministry said Germany's shortage of skilled workers is "acutely affecting" many companies' potential to grow.

This is why, having found the valuable talent you need, you should put equal effort into retaining them.

Four principles of talent retention:

1.Are you listening?

Eric Yuan came from China to the United States not speaking English. He applied for a visa nine times, and was turned down eight times before getting one to work in the United States. He also had to overcome a lack of English- language skills to get a job at the video-conferencing company Webex.

He performed so well that he helped Webex become the leading videoconference platform and earned the position of VP of engineering at the tech giant Cisco Systems, which had purchased Webex.

Then, Yuan saw an opportunity: the emergence of smartphone-based videoconferencing. He proposed rewriting the platform to make it smartphone friendly.

But his proposal got no traction. Within a year, he left to start Zoom, which has overtaken Webex as the dominant videoconferencing application.

The moral of the story? Listen to your star talent, as HBR reminds us. ‘Do you have to listen to everything top talent has to say? Of course not. But recognize that talented people don’t take kindly to being dismissed out of hand. And they always have options—options that may be highly damaging to you.’

2. A good match?

“Of course, that special kind of talent doesn’t work entirely alone. There is an important job to do in matching talent with culture. It’s no good having a brilliant talent who is a misfit within a particular corporate culture. They will be impossible to retain and might well disrupt the wider organization”, says Christiane Pietsch, Partner at Odgers Berndtson Germany.

So, it is important to recognize that talent retention starts with the recruitment process , the matchmaking. From design of role, through the application process and screening of applicants, to choosing whom to interview, every step has to be the right one.

Another truth is that talent will tend to stay longer at organizations where they are aligned with the values, vision, and mission of your organization. And, usually, the longer a person is with an organization, the more productive they become over time.

3. Constant upgrades required, please

The moment a talented person joins your company, another important process begins. Career and professional development, which is another key to retention.

If an individual feels that their way forward has been barred and there’s too much of a wait for advancement or opportunity, chances are they will start looking around for an organization that will.

Developing individuals is good for your business too, of course, in a fast-moving world.

“Professional and career developmental opportunities have to be fitted to each individual”, says Veronika Ulbort, Partner at Odgers Berndtson Germany

“That means a proper assessment, coaching feedback, and understanding each individual’s specific in-depth strengths, risk factors, and what their internal motivators actually are. Only then can a programme be closely- molded to fit the needs, profiles, and goals of the individual”, she adds.

There is some evidence that 80% or more of Gen Z and Millennials would choose to leave a company that doesn’t offer personal development opportunities.

4. Take time to be kind

“It might seem obvious, but managers who show genuine interest in their talent are more likely to retain them”, says Christiane Pietsch.

This is beyond the formal interaction, assessments and so on. This is about never missing an opportunity to praise them, for example. In the words of HBR, “Extraordinary people spend all their time doing really hard things. They have to regularly flirt with—and actually experience—failure. For that reason, they need recognition.”

And this is not about a big song and dance, it can be a quiet word, one of many.

The culmination of all those little things can mean a lot. And be the difference between keeping, or losing, a big talent.

To discuss your current talent plans, or your individual career trajectory and ambitions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be keen to hear from you.