The battle for talent between organisations is heating up challenging enterprises to step up their talent retention strategies, says Ricky Robinson, CEO of performance agency, LRMG.
The battle for talent was heating despite expectations that it would ease up as a result of high unemployment rates. With the rise of the internet and social media tools, making it ever easier for talent to shop for better opportunities, companies could no longer delay in implementing strategies to retain critical talent.
Robinson pointed out that the Deloitte’s 2011 Best Company to Work For survey provides valuable insights into current and emerging talent trends and what future-savvy business leaders should be incorporating into their talent strategies over the next decade. “As reflected in the survey, the high unemployment rate did not in fact result in the talent surplus many predicted. Rather many executives continue to report talent shortages across key business units with organisations across the globe reporting continued concerns over elevated levels of voluntary employee turnover.
“This is consistent with what we have noted with the South African market having been counter intuitive this last while. With high unemployment one would expect employees to not only be more grateful to have a job and be less demanding of their employers, but also to hang onto the security of their existing jobs or employers. Clearly this is not the case and employers need to sit up and take note.”
Robinson suggested that what was happening in these tougher times was that employees were required to do more and were being multi-skilled. In doing so, these employees are becoming more competent and hence more valuable to their organisations and are suddenly finding themselves more mobile.
“At the same time, employers are far more reticent to employ inexperienced people, (though) that they may be well educated. Hence, a further talent vacuum is developing. The talent pool has suddenly become richer but at the same time a lot shallower.”
Of concern from the survey results is that employers appeared to be missing the mark. “Most evident from the 2011 survey is the divergence between the attitudes and desires of employees as opposed to the talent strategies and practices utilised by employers,” says David Conradie, director: human capital of Deloitte Consulting.
With 65% of survey respondents indicating that they are considering leaving their organisations, employers were right to be worried. Not surprisingly, the top retention incentives identified by employees present a near-mirror image of departure drivers, with “promotion/job advancement” topping the incentive list, followed by additional compensation and bonuses. Boosting employee support or recognition from managers also ranked highly, indicating that companies can improve their talent retention efforts through non-financial incentives as well.
“However, when it comes to talent strategies there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” Robinson says. “Rather, each organisation needs to consider the varying goals, expectations and desires of different generations and genders when it comes to career growth if they are to successfully address every employee group.”
According to Robinson, a successful talent strategy should ultimately ensure that talent is loyal and wants to be part of the future success of the organisation. This can be achieved by taking certain organisational environment factors into consideration.
“A culture of high performance, where good performance is consistently and equitably recognised and rewarded and consequences for poor performance are clearly understood is a good starting point,” Robinson said. “Discipline, learning, innovation and high energy would likely also be other attractive cultural attributes for any organisation”.
Another important environmental factor influencing talent retention is that of information. “Employees should know where the company is going, why they are going there and what their specific roles are in this plan. There also need to be regular and robust feedback loops ensuring ongoing alignment.”
Robinson says a big focus for companies over the next decade will be ensuring that they create clear career paths and challenging job opportunities for staff. “Great people want to grow, achieve and develop with an organisation that does the same. In turn, employees need to be ready for additional responsibility, which means that great attention needs to be given to their knowledge and skill base through appropriate coaching and learning interventions.”
Conradie agrees. “Organisations should not to be lulled into a false sense of security with general employee sentiment reflecting a more positive, post-recession outlook,” he says. “Rather they will need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to career and talent development strategies.”