How to retain your talent

The current climate

We’ve spoken before about what candidates want from their potential employers, a relevant question after the pandemic and in the midst of The Great Resignation. We have also explored how companies can respond by examining their employee value proposition (EVP). While prospective candidates are tempted by financial compensation, there are many more equally significant factors involved in their decision-making. Does retaining your existing talent follow the same logic?

How recruitment helps retention

Recruitment is intrinsically linked to not only acquiring talent, but retaining it. In tech in particular, many companies are increasing their talent retention efforts in the face of a global shortage. As recruitment becomes more difficult in specialised sectors, a robust strategy to retain talent is crucial.

Recruitment also helps to establish your company culture and strategy. You can put forward an image of your company to attract certain profiles. It seems like a simple observation but it is at the root of talent retention.

You can also use the hiring process to gain insights. Use the opportunity to find what motivates people to work for your company, what their goals are and what they consider the major challenges of working for you.

However, the search for new candidates should not be the diverting focus. It is more economical – and indicative of long-term vision – to prioritise reskilling and upskilling current talent, particularly in tech. Employees are rewarded with opportunities for growth, and employers have the opportunity to develop the employees they already have at cheaper cost than onboarding new hires. As McKinsey research shows, around 82% of global executives believe that this approach will be a key solution to talent gaps. In their words, ‘it’s impossible to hire everyone you need’.

What do you have to offer?

Once you’ve identified the values you want your company to have – and the profiles that fit that vision – think about the tangible offer that you can make to your employees to ensure their satisfaction.

Forbes suggests transparency over pay bands is crucial. A recent impact report suggested that employees who believed their organisations lacked transparency over pay practices were 183% more likely to search for another job. Another potential stream of financial compensation, especially in tech, is exercising stock options for employees, but this is less consistent in the European market.

This tells us that the employee experience is paramount. A sense of a common goal and fairness in the workplace is vital. So is maintaining work-life balance, which tells an employee that their company cares about them on a personal level beyond the work that they produce. There are wider incentives that can achieve this, including competitive benefits. A survey by Glassdoor found that 63% of employees considered benefits a leading factor when considering job listings. This can include parental leave benefits, health insurance and flexible working.

Flexibility, in the wake of the Covid pandemic, has become a much more significant part of the conversation relating to talent retention. Many companies offer a hybrid working model as an enticement in job adverts. 75% of hybrid or remote-working employees, particularly in the knowledge sector, have said that their expectations of working flexibly have increased since the pandemic.

An industry leader’s perspective

Damian Bird, a member of Continental Search Alliance with almost twenty years of experience in executive search across the globe, offers his perspective on the issue of talent retention.

The question of ‘how to retain talent’ is a topic that all good leaders want to understand and strive to answer. Finding this answer, or solution is often considered as being complex but some of the basic steps towards understanding the question and building a foundation to answer it, doesn’t have to be either complicated or costly.

People, however, are complex. Our values, focus, priorities, and passions are forever evolving and sometimes change entirely.

The first step for a leader to retain talent is to over-communicate with staff. To inform and remind people of their purpose, their mission, their goals. When I say goals, I am not referring to KPIs or tasks. Enabling peoples understanding of their purpose and creating clarity and connection between that purpose and the company’s mission is paramount.

Employees need to see and subscribe to a company’s vision and or journey and see the part that you as an employee play in working towards achieving success with making that vision or ‘goal’ a reality.

Keeping close to individuals and encouraging free speech (in terms of employee feedback) is the starting point to identify priority changes which unaddressed or untreated could turn into a loss of talent. Whilst companies can often offer an answer to an employee’s changing priorities, in terms of a role refinement and re-setting an employee’s understanding of their mission and purpose, on occasion we cannot offer a solution and must accept that people change, and companies change. Employers must strive for a leaver to look back and feel that the company was ‘the best company they had worked for’. Positive employee experience is crucial in retaining talent and when done well will enhance a company’s reputation, which assists in winning new talent, to replace, improve or add to lost talent.

Final Thoughts

Retaining existing talent after the Covid pandemic follows similar practices to that of acquiring new talent. Flexibility. Transparency. Inclusivity. Professional development. Employees are looking to feel engaged with their workplace, find fundamental common values and maintain the work-life balance. This means that leaders must work to examine their employee value proposition in response, and be prepared to reinforce their values with action.

Damian Bird / Tom Boughen for Continental Search Alliance.

Continental Search Alliance recruits for mid-level to C-suite executive positions from scalable startups to the world’s largest tech firms, combining tech and digital expertise with extensive reach across EMEA and APAC.