5 Ideas for Retaining Talent in a Tough Labor Market

Most HR professionals and business leaders today are concerned about finding and keeping talent.  If you are going to focus on one, I’d suggest you start first by focusing on retaining talent.

Broadly, the best way to retain talent is to create an environment where people have key needs met. These needs are described in Daniel Pink’s book Drive. They are 1) The need to direct their own lives 2) The desire to do better for ourselves and our world 3) To learn and create new things.

But given these three things, what are some practices that can actually be implemented?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Customized total rewards/benefits.  In other words, what a 20-year-old wants/needs are different than what a 40-year-old and a 60-year-old need and want. You could use other criteria besides age to illustrate this point as well. One-sized fits all benefits don’t work anymore. Ala Carte benefits and pay are more effective.  

For more thoughts on this, you might find these posts helpful:

A Look Back On the Best Way to Thank Employees is to Make it Personal

3 Steps for Driving Employee Engagement through Personalization

2. Two-way senior leadership exposure. Senior leadership needs to be exposed to front line staff and vis versa in order to identify and develop high potential employees and align them for growth opportunities. Set-up a time where senior leadership regularly “walks the floor” and interacts with the front line.  

3. Link all practices and rewards to company values

For more thoughts on this, you might find these posts helpful:

Marketing Your Core Values and Culture

6 Ways to Design Your Performance Management System Around Company Values

4. Implement “buddy systems”.  This is a system where HR or bosses are not involved but where people can connect with others at work about problems or issues and work them out with their peers.  These could be work or non-work related. Allow latitude for those solutions to be implemented.

5. Capture learning while it is being made.  Make videos of products being made and designed especially if you deal in customized things that aren’t produced regularly (processes not on paper but in the video). This can help people who are creating the learning be able to meet number two and three above and also help people who are learning from them fulfill need three.

With turnover costing companies 100-300% of the person’s annual salary, not to mention the challenge of finding people in this tight labor market, it is worth implementing things that make sense for your business to help you retain and train those you already have.

Which of these five things makes the most sense for your organization to help you retain talent?

Mary Ila Ward

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