Smart companies keep smart people

We hear so much about the challenges facing businesses in the 21st century – about globalisation, resource shortages, and threats to security and privacy. Amid all the alarms being raised, we hear only rarely about what may be the most fundamental crisis facing most businesses today – talent. How to get the best. What to do with it. And how to keep it. It is an issue of immense importance and yet it is something that has only recently begun to be a serious concern.

The talent crisis hasn’t erupted because of a shortage of workers. There are plenty of people out there looking for jobs. There are amazingly talented people out there, but as difficult as they are to find, they’re even harder to manage and retain.

At operations level, this talent drain creates a number or problems:

  • A loss of smooth processes and an immediate reduction in efficiency
  • Strategically, there is a loss of intellectual capital. When a key player leaves, the intimate business knowledge and relationships that were gained may go out the door too
  • And then there are the financial costs. This can be as simple as the cost of a replacement hire, which on the low side might be 150 per cent of the person’s salary, including recruitment fees, training, and so on
  • And on top of all that it’s not uncommon for the departure of one employee to result in the loss of additional valued talent, either directly or because of dissatisfactions caused by that person’s absence.

So what can you do about it?

Put simply, don’t lose them!

There is no single policy that will guarantee your company is a place where people want to work. You have to start by putting engaging them at the top of your to-do list. Far too many businesses make the mistake of thinking they can solve the talent crisis by throwing money at people. A big pay cheque may get certain people in the door, but it will hardly ever be enough to retain them, nor is it necessarily going to motivate them to earn it.

For today’s leading talent, an attractive compensation package goes beyond salary and includes a range of intangibles that are vital to both engagement and retention.

They include the opportunity to learn and grow; to try new things; a boss who is engaged in helping them succeed; a culture that motivates them, and recognises and rewards their contributions; the flexibility to work in a way that makes sense to them and supports other aspects of their lives; the certainty that what they are doing is important to the business and to the people with whom they work.

And, more and more, the most valued talent are looking for a broader sense of purpose that makes what they do on the job meaningful and infinitely more satisfying than simply helping a company reach its numbers or expand.

Happily, we are seeing the beginnings of a shift towards this more people-centric way of doing business:

  • Companies, such as Netflix trust their employees to behave as adults and make decisions based on what they know to be right, rather than on what a bulky employee manual dictates.
  • Businesses such as PepsiCo are instilling in their talent a sense of purpose that extends well beyond the narrowly defined financial interests of the company
  • And the top echelons of companies such Google have come to understand that how a company treats its people, not just executives, but across the board, is now the most critical differentiating factor in business success

All this points to the need to engage your employees, to ensure that they know they ‘matter’, and to get to know them as people not just employees.

To learn more about how to do all this, click on our ‘bookings’ page and join the next connect-4 programme.

It could be the best investment you ever make.

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