Good engagement and sustainability scores are no longer enough to retain high-potential talent.
You often hear about “progressive employers” who are identifiable through their sustainability initiatives, ESG scores, engagement metrics, being labelled great places to work and so on and so forth. However, you very rarely read about “talent-progressive employers” (TPE) ie; those - few - companies who truly champion talent, nurture it and allow you to reach your full potential. Although being labelled a progressive employer is already an immense achievement, it does not necessarily make it the best place to work for a high-potential talent (HPT). Retaining top talent is not an easy task, they are often high-maintenance, get bored quickly and have frequent solicitations from the market.
In an effort to call this out, we’ve formulated what we think should be 5 simple guiding pillars for HPTs to use in vetting an employee and for TPEs to base their talent retention strategies on.
How many times have you been given the feedback that you didn’t get a promotion because they wanted someone with “more experience” and nothing else? When you pushed to understand more deeply you were simply told that the other candidate you were up against had 5 more years of experience than you in similar functions. That is not the reasoning of a TPE, it is short-sighted and stunts growth. A TPE looks at a multitude of factors when analyzing experience. Sure, years worked is one of them, but equal weight should also be given to the intensity and variety of experiences, not to mention the hardwired capabilities that will enable someone to deliver in a role 1-2 years from now versus in their first 6 months.
As in point 1, the most obvious hiring or staffing choice on paper may not be the best one for talent attraction. A TPE takes risks on talent for big roles when they have not necessarily ticked every single qualification box. Doing that is not enough, however, HPTs - no matter how savvy - will more often than not be out of their depth and must be mentored in their initial climb up the steep learning curve. Hiring managers and HR officers need to be encouraged top-down to emphasize talent and capabilities over experience in their hiring, knowing that it is always a bold bet that may result in failure. When it works, however, it is one that can pay off in a transformational way.
A TPE knows the real enemy is boredom. HPTs pick up things quickly and should be kept on their toes as much as possible so as to keep them from getting complacent. Talent should keep rotating both for their own good in terms of learnings and engagement but also for the good of the company, because, at the end of day, if talents are not learning or are disengaged, they leave.
This one is quite straightforward: put your money where your mouth is. The best talent employers invest disproportionately today in the leaders of tomorrow, through training programs, compensation that gives them peace of mind and health and wellbeing initiatives. Send them to trainings they are interested in, pay them above the market average and reimburse their gym membership!
Finally, no career conversation with a talent should ever end with the words “there is no plan.” If it does, it is a failure on both parts. Career planning is a two way street. A TPE works from day one with HPTs to map out their career and continuously updates it in an agile fashion. Providing this perspective and engagement behind career mapping is crucial to long-term development and retention.
This list is of course not an exhaustive one, you will hear more on this topic in the coming months since it is one we are passionate about at tal&dev. In fact, helping talent find their best career fit and enabling long-term matches with progressive employers is our raison d’être. We are proud to be on this journey with you!
September 24, 2020