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Know your context: retain your talent

Know your context: retain your talent

The 31st of January. Statistically speaking, it’s the most likely day of the year for your employees to hand in their notice.

This makes practical sense – one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to ‘find a new job’, which, of course, can take time.

Up until recently, HR teams have focused a large chunk of their attention on attracting fresh talent, but in our highly competitive and rapidly changing business environment, it’s become increasingly important for organisations to hold onto talent – through New Year’s resolutions and all.

Talent retention is a growing concern for many organisations. According to McKinsey, only 7% of Fortune 500 executives said their organisations retain high performers. And statistics by PwC revealed 63% of CEOs agree the availability of skills is a serious concern, and 93% recognise the need to change their strategy for attracting and retaining talent. 

So, how can organisations go about retaining their talent? 

One word: context. It’s important that leaders think through their current context and try to understand it on an organisational, societal and individual level, otherwise they’ll struggle to navigate their way through the world of work. 

Map your talent needs to your future context, not your past

Let’s face the facts – you can’t hold on to everyone. Some people might leave unexpectedly; you might have seen the departure of others coming a mile off; and a few resignations might even come as a welcome surprise. 

But you want to attract and retain high-performing people who are invested and engaged in the success of your organisation (which isn’t everyone).

When you think about your organisation’s top performing talent, the clever individuals who brought in a number of high-profile clients, or who successfully delivered on large-scale projects, probably spring to mind. But in today’s rapidly changing business environment, you can’t base your talent strategy on what (or who) has worked in the past. You have to consider what your organisation needs going forward.

According to the World Economic Forum, 35% of workplace skills in all industries are expected to change by 2020 – so, building an adaptable and agile workforce that can cope with change is essential.

Do you know what your talent looks like going forward – does it need to be more agile, more resilient or more collaborative? Do you know who that talent is? And what are you doing to develop it?

In order to bring the talent with the more appropriate skillset and mindset to the forefront of your organisation, you might find that, after carrying out assessments and creating development opportunities, some employees no longer have a place in your new structure. 

Know your current context

Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Well, that’s how the saying goes, anyway – and while this saying holds true (46% of employees wanting to quit their jobs listed a bad boss as a key factor, according to a survey by Crunch) – there’s far more to effective leadership than being a ‘bad boss.’

For instance, failing to provide your talent with key development opportunities is just as damaging to employee engagement and retention as being a difficult boss to deal with (if not more so). 

A recent LinkedIn report states that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. 

To retain your best and brightest people, your organisation needs to identify new ways of engaging, developing and motivating individuals so they don't want to leave.

Give your employees the freedom to craft their jobs around their own areas of interest, and if they’re not sure where their interests lie, encourage them to get involved in numerous functions or projects to identify any unanswered callings. 

Engage the individual

When we throw the word “leadership” around, it’s mostly associated with board-level directors or politicians, but if you were to look back over your career to the times where you’ve demonstrated leadership, those instances would have occurred when you stepped up and took the initiative, not when you were necessarily told to do so. 

In today’s modern workplace, where organisations are dismantling traditional structures in favour of flatter and more collaborative work environments, leadership is something that takes place across all levels of your organisation, not just in the C-suite. 

But it’s up to organisations to provide an environment where individuals feel safe suggesting new ideas and putting them into action. When you think about it, most people are either being engaged and challenged in their roles, or they’re being supressed. 

How are your employees thinking, feeling and behaving? What plans are currently in place to ensure they stay, flourish and grow?

To find out more about building an agile workforce, download our free Agility Executive Briefing.

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