Talent Retention Strategy

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Talent Retention Strategy


13-09-2023 | By Brandon Yeo, MD, ETC

man protecting employees

In today’s day and age where connectivity allows the exchange and access of information at a click(s) away, talents are exposed to career opportunities (actively or passively) at an unprecedented scale.

Talent Retention is often not spoken in the same breath as Talent Attraction, but it is equally as important, if not, even more critical to an organisation’s success. Never underestimate the impact brought to the rest of the organisation (and the organisation itself) for failing to hold on to its best talents. As the old saying goes: “Money speaks”, but for how long? In today’s blog, we discuss the possible sustainable efforts to retain talent besides the palpable need to address the financial demands present in the market of talent.

The following strategies/measures are a compilation of what has proven to work in some organisations in Singapore in terms of their talent retention approach, worth taking reference from, regardless of industry or size.

employees working towards the same purpose

Alignment of Purpose

We live in a society where basic needs such as a roof over our heads and clean water coming out of our taps are not quite the worry for most of us. A proper welfare and education system has allowed the employees of today’s generation to search for needs up the hierarchy. “Purpose” has to be one of them. It is no surprise how Steve Jobs and Apple’s vision of “making the best products on Earth and to leave the world better than we found it” resonated with the people who wanted and played a part in the path of fulfilling that.

But the key thing here is (1) creating a purpose, (2) believing and (3) committing actions to it and finally, (4) aligning it with the people who are playing a part. Most leaders will agree that this can be an uphill task because a disjoint in any of the four elements can have an adverse effect on the eventual outcome.

A company is akin to a train joined by many cars/cabins. Having an aligned purpose keeps the people (cars/cabins) heading in the same direction and preventing disjoint. Strengthening, regular emphasis and conversations on purpose is a maintenance work that keeps the unit together, functioning and heading towards the direction laid out.

Allowing Voices to Be Heard

Often quoted as one of the top reasons why talents leave their jobs – feedback has fallen on deaf ears. When one feels unheard, he/she questions the impact they bring to the organisation and when doubt is cast on the impact they bring, they shut off and cut the feedback channel. The vicious cycle continues.

Employers can work towards giving life and vibrance to the pipeline. How? Address the feedback and openly encourage more of it. It is naive to approach all feedback with a solution. Sometimes the solution comes at a high cost, sometimes it is impractical, and sometimes timing is an issue. Recognising issues and addressing them sets the tone of how voices are received; if an individual understands the constraints of implementing a solution, he/she is more likely to find a workaround and seek pride in it.

Demonstrating that feedback is looked at and addressed seriously (via an action plan or an open explanation) drives individuals to see the value in their voices and the meaning of voicing out. In the same way that gathering external feedback from clients and suppliers helps the company grow, internal feedback also fulfils the purpose. Communication is key.

Investing in the Professional Development of Individuals

Earning and learning come hand in hand. More often than not, when both aspects are fulfilled, most people do not find the need to change, not when every change in the company comes with a reasonable amount of risk in having to compensate for something lesser.

The natural associations with the word “investment” are “costs” and “money” but it does not necessarily have to be so or limited to those. Especially with smaller companies who may not pack the same punch financially as the big boys, these investments can come in the form of time, experience and trust. A well-funded course sponsorship without a proper follow-through or mentorship works the same as signing up for the most lavish gym membership in town but not having a proper trainer working you through the right fitness regime.

With a proper structure for learning and a change in mindset that developing talents is more than just spending money, companies can put their talents through challenging projects from time to time, assigning a mentor-mentee coaching relationship, not forgetting trust as a key component to professional development.

There is a famous anecdote of a CFO asking the CEO, “What if we invest in developing our people, and they leave?” The CEO replied, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” Truth is, in a chicken-and-egg situation like this, even if the people left, what stays behind would be a culture of development, and it will aid the company in the areas of talent retention and attraction, if not now, surely in the near future when such culture matures.

Involving Families and Loved Ones

Family forms a huge part of our lives, and so do our careers, or at least these two take up a large majority of our time. The beauty of marrying these two giant blocks of our lives may not be appreciated by some people, but it certainly helped some companies foster a more cohesive relationship with their employees.

Work can be stressful at times. Emotions can spill over to our personal lives. Our loved ones may not understand, and the last thing we want is for them to cast a negative impression or influence one’s stay in a company.

As a kid growing up knowing the “Uncle Stevens” and “Auntie Helens”, who were my Dad’s colleagues during year-end trips to Genting Highlands or maybe the picnics at the then Marina South Pier, I always saw two sides to my Dad’s job. When I started working, I realised the importance of the role that families play in one’s success at work. Employers can be creative with the way this support is built. “Family Day”, “Employee Incentive Trips”, and sponsoring dependents’ medical expenses are some examples of great initiatives.

But fool ourselves not, whilst involvement of family and loved ones can be a great retention initiative, the impact comes after meeting the basic and prioritised needs.

families and loved ones

Final Words

In today’s hyper-connected world, talent retention is as critical as talent attraction for organisational success. To retain top talent effectively:

  1. Align your company’s purpose with employee aspirations.
  2. Listen to and act on employee feedback to foster communication.
  3. Invest in professional development beyond just monetary means.
  4. Include families and loved ones to create a supportive work environment.

By implementing these strategies, organisations can create a culture that not only retains valuable talent but also ensures long-term success in an ever-evolving job market.

Category: Blog