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Let's Talk Business: Talent management - a strategic approach
Published on September 3, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Billie Bowe

There is a common misconception that in a negative economy where unemployment rates are high, companies need not worry about losing their top talent. Some employers may even believe that employees are happy to just have a job. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Don’t let the high rate of unemployment fool you. Companies with good recruitment and talent management strategies can be lying in wait for the first opportunity to recruit your top performers.

Billie Bowe has been a successful senior manager in human resources for the private sector for more than ten years and is the president and CEO of Benchmark Consulting Services Ltd in Freeport, Grand Bahama, with a specific focus on human resources development. Email:
Employee engagement plays a major role when it comes to whether your best talent would fall prey to a smooth talking headhunter with the lure of new challenges and better opportunities. In most cases however, and employee’s reasons for making the decision to leave a company often has little to do with more money. It all boils down to how talent is “managed” within a company.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducted exit interviews of 19,000+ employees in their 2005 study entitled “Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave”. The study revealed that 16% of the employees left due to limited career/promotion opportunities. The second reason of the 13% of those interviewed indicated that their supervisor lacked respect/support. Coming in as the third reason (13%) was compensation. So while an employer may believe more money is the driving force behind an employee’s resignation, the exit interviews told a different story. From the employee’s perspective their career needs were just not being met.

In another survey of 46 companies conducted by one of the leading management consulting firms McKinsey & Company entitled “Making Talent a Strategy Priority”, revealed that the number one of the top seven obstacles to good talent management is that 59% of senior managers don’t spend enough high-quality time on talent management. The number two reason (48%) is that organizations are “siloed” and do not encourage constructive collaboration and sharing of resources.

This lack of focus on talent management can be costly when it comes to replacing a high performing employee. The hidden costs, however, are frequently even higher as they can lead to low quality of work performed by an unproductive employee while still on the job, the internal disorganization and disruption the employee may have caused, the ill-will and alienation that may have been generated, and perhaps even the loss of valued customers. For these companies surveyed, talent management just wasn’t a part of their overall human resources recruitment and talent retention strategy.

So what can companies do to ensure their recruitment and retention practices don’t result in a revolving door? Companies who recognize their top talent and provide opportunities for them to grow and develop may stand a better chance at retaining their top performers. Employee engagement surveys are excellent tools for a company to “take its temperature” to ensure they are still being competitive and are meeting the needs of their employees. Surveys designed correctly and distributed in an easy format can reap great rewards for companies interested in knowing how their employees feel about working for them and the effectiveness of its leadership.

Many companies are looking to outside consulting firms to assist them with conducting and analyzing employee engagement survey results in order develop talent management strategies that retain top performers and weed out unproductive, low performing employees. Even small businesses can benefit from such an introspective approach to understanding the emotional health of their businesses.

Focus shouldn't just be on top performers. Company executives should consider that different things motivate people of different genders, ages, and nationalities. For example, if your company’s workforce consists of more single, younger adults, a motivating factor may be training and mentorship with opportunities to advance. For more experienced, settled employees, retirement benefits may be key. For a workplace populated with more females with families, flexible work schedules may be an attractive benefit.

Whatever the case, talent management doesn’t just happen. It must be a part of a company’s human resources goals and objectives. Having a focused strategy around talent management is not only important; it’s essential to understanding a business’s strengths and capabilities. Human resources professionals should seek partnerships with their business unit leaders to find ways to keep employees engaged and fulfilled.

As quoted in The Sun Daily Malaysia, “The bigger challenge is not only in finding the right talent, but importantly, in creating a conducive working environment and culture that allows these talented individuals to progress and grow as professionals.”

Talent management requires an extraordinary effort and commitment on behalf of leadership in partnership with human resources professionals. The cost of recruitment and replacing an experienced employee is too great for any company to ignore the value of having an effective talent management plan.
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