How to Re­tain Top Tal­ent

The Washington Post Sunday - - JOBS - RITA TREHAN Rita Trehan is a free­lance writer who cov­ers global HR lead­er­ship and busi­ness growth. @Ri­ta_Tre­han This spe­cial ad­ver­tis­ing sec­tion was pro­duced by The Wash­ing­ton Post Cus­tom Con­tent Depart­ment and did not in­volve The Wash­ing­ton Post news or

Ac­cord­ing to Payscales 2015 Com­pen­sa­tion Best Prac­tices Re­port, re­ten­tion is an in­creas­ing pri­or­ity for em­ploy­ers. Sixty-three per­cent of em­ploy­ers con­sider re­ten­tion a top line item, a whop­ping 43% in­crease from just five years ago.

Com­pa­nies re­al­ize that no mat­ter what they wish to achieve, be it growth, trans­for­ma­tion, or even stay­ing in the game, the abil­ity to har­ness the power of top tal­ent is key to their suc­cess. We cur­rently sit in a can­di­date’s mar­ket, which means the de­mand for great peo­ple is higher than the sup­ply, which means po­ten­tial and cur­rent em­ploy­ees have many more op­tions. Dis­sat­is­fac­tion with em­ploy­ment means that a sea­soned, val­ued em­ployee could quite com­fort­ably find a bet­ter deal else­where, com­pletely up­set­ting the or­ga­ni­za­tion chart and pro­duc­tion right along with it. With that in mind, com­pa­nies are be­com­ing quite proac­tive in their ef­forts to keep their peo­ple.

To en­sure your com­pany is per­form­ing at peak ca­pac­ity, you’ll want to do every­thing you can to con­nect your best and bright­est with your goals, which re­quires a re­ten­tion strat­egy. Here are some steps you’ll want to take in that di­rec­tion:

Start on Day One — Your re­ten­tion strat­egy starts the day some­one comes on­board. Poor ori­en­ta­tion and a lack of di­rec­tion are some of the ma­jor rea­sons cited by new hires who leave within their first year. Cre­at­ing a strong ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram along with in­te­grat­ing and pro­vid­ing clear, con­cise di­rec­tion early on is a vi­tal first step to long-term em­ployee en­gage­ment.

Mind your man­agers — One of the most cer­tain ways to alien­ate em­ploy­ees is to bury them in an in­fras­truc­ture with poor lead­er­ship. Em­ploy­ees who suf­fer lack of clear ex­pec­ta­tions, in­suf­fi­cient coach­ing and feed­back, and with a man­ager who either man­ages with too heavy a hand or with seem­ingly no ac­count­abil­ity at all can have a big im­pact on the longevity of a hire. Any of th­ese man­age­ment ills can leave an em­ployee frus­trated, un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated and un­chal­lenged. Be sure to of­fer con­stant coach­ing and feed­back along with clear ex­pec­ta­tions for your em­ploy­ees as well as your man­age­ment team. As the ex­ten­sion of the em­ployer brand, your man­agers rep­re­sent the com­pany to your ta­lented em­ploy­ees. They are the face of the cor­po­ra­tion to ev­ery­one who comes into con­tact with them. Make sure the right peo­ple are rep­re­sent­ing your in­ter­ests and car­ing for your as­sets ac­cord­ingly.

Growth and ca­reer chal­lenges are not

op­tional ex­tras — Ta­lented peo­ple wish to be stretched, and thrive on op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow and de­velop their skills. Fail to pro­vide such op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to learn new skills and your best peo­ple may start seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties else­where. Ca­reer de­vel­op­ment dis­cus­sions must be held on a reg­u­lar and on­go­ing ba­sis. Those who in­vest in their tal­ent reap the great­est re­wards.

Re­ward and rec­og­nize per­for­mance — Ta­lented peo­ple are quick to learn their worth in the mar­ket­place, and while com­pen­sa­tion may not top their list of pri­or­i­ties, it’s still quite high on their list of de­sires. Too of­ten, com­pa­nies wait un­til a res­ig­na­tion let­ter hits the desk to of­fer to ad­dress com­pen­sa­tion is­sues, and by then it is too lit­tle too late. Pay your peo­ple well and re­ward for high per­for­mance. You’ll see long-term re­turns if you di­vide the spoils among your big­gest win­ners.

En­gage your em­ploy­ees — Con­ver­sa­tions about what could be done to make the work en­vi­ron­ment bet­ter are usu­ally left to the exit in­ter­view, at which point it’s too late to save what could have been a great em­ployee. Don’t let this hap­pen to you: con­duct reg­u­lar check-in dis­cus­sions. There is no bet­ter way to find out what an em­ployee thinks than to sim­ply ask them. Check-in dis­cus­sions not only help bub­ble warn­ing signs to the sur­face, but they pro­vide a real op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress is­sues or frus­tra­tions be­fore it’s too late. Build in check-in dis­cus­sions as part of your reg­u­lar feed­back dis­cus­sions with your em­ploy­ees and ad­dress em­ploy­ment is­sues con­stantly, not just at the very end.

It makes good busi­ness sense to hold on to your best as­sets, which are your peo­ple. Em­ploy the strate­gies above and watch your re­ten­tion rise in what could ar­guably be one of the tough­est em­ploy­ment mar­kets in re­cent his­tory. If you’re in busi­ness for the long game, re­ten­tion of top tal­ent is one of the strate­gies that will get and keep you there.

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