These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Talent Think Tank (TTT) held on Thursday 15th November 2012 hosted by L’Oreal’s Isabelle Minneci (Human Resources Director), titled ‘Grappling with Talent Retention’.
The following summary, written by our TTT partner Chemistry Group, has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading UK and other international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
The latest Talent Think Tank kicked off with an introduction from our host about some of the key trends in 2012. The change in expectations, career management and generational shifts highlight that there is a burning platform with Talent Management today to adapt in order to retain Talent. Here are some of the key points we discussed to address the challenges faced today:
The first question organisations face with Talent Retention is how to identify Talent in the first place. In theory, all employees have Talent however identifying who has potential, and who has international mobility are key factors in deciding on any retention strategy. We discussed that it is critical to firstly understand what are the key criteria for success within a particular company, in order to select ‘potential’. Talent can sometimes be seen as an elitist term, and consequently can have a negative impact. The idea that everyone has Talent creates a different mindset within an organization, instead it becomes finding the right fit for a given employee in order for them to realise their potential, and for the organisation to benefit.
What makes People Stay?
Work-Life balance became a topic of conversation, highlighting the need to ensure flexibility in working hours to suit the needs of different people. According to our attendees, exit interviews have shown that the work-life balance is only a small contributor to retaining talent, and instead highlighting career development and opportunities have been found to be one of the biggest drivers for people choosing to jump ship. Interestingly, more organisations are finding that there is a gap between salary expectation and what companies are willing to pay for. Young people in particular are balancing the need to survive financially and find their career, the result of which suggests that finding opportunities externally, and outside of London, is easier than the internal options available. This highlights a different level of engagement and complexity within young people today.
Personal Intent & Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The need for people to develop and manage their careers is something that is personally important to them as an individual. Roger Philby, from the Chemistry Group highlighted that one of the biggest drivers of engagement that they’ve found is tapping in to an individual’s personal intent. Relating this to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (and Chip Conley’s book Peak), there is a shift from the need for money and security, towards enabling individuals to reach their ‘self-actualisation.’ This is dependent on what is specifically important to that person. Organisations that can tap in to the ‘why am I here’ question, and use this within personal development of employees are far more likely to engage Talent and thus retain it. From here it was apparent that opportunities could be introduced to collaborate with other companies, to offer mentoring schemes, secondments and ‘loaning’ of employees to support them with their career development.
The label of being “high potential” suggests that once you’re recognized as high potential, you are always high potential. However, within our discussion we highlighted that experience and such labels within one industry or organization does not predict success within another. The War for Talent simply isn’t true, and instead organisations are often measuring the wrong thing. Instead, how and why people do what they do within an organization is much more interesting than what has been done before. Potential is therefore about how you work, and your intrinsic drivers. This means organisations need to understand what this means for their specific organization, and within specific roles, and find people who fit it.
To Buy or Grow Talent?
Darwin’s theory of evolution exists within some companies, in that only the best survive, and it is easy to buy in replacements. This is apparent within many Professional Services for instance. However, different models exist dependent on different organisations. A very different approach can be taken to a family owned business, compared to one that is private and has a CEO who acts on behalf of shareholders. Challenges are faced with both building stability and loyalty to retain Talent, but also to shake things up with Talent in order to challenge the current way of working. Both have significant impact on the brand, and the campfire stories that have grown up within the business that drive ‘how’ things are done. One model does not fit all.
Is the Grass Greener?
Finally, we discussed that often Talent within companies today think that the grass is greener on the other side. With this in mind, there is an opportunity for organisations to re-engage with their best Talent they’ve lost, later down the line. Creating Alumni networks, and other external networking opportunities for existing employees, creates a different concept towards a talent exchange. From a recruitment perspective, organisations might also move to recruiting people per project, to allow people to have their impact, develop themselves with something new, before moving onto something different.
From this discussion, we left on the note that it is important to create optimism around people and our current Talent Management challenges rather than cynicism. There was a recognition that people within organisations have grown tired, and it is important for us within our roles to adapt, and to create hope with how we engage and retain Talent today. The Talent Pool within our organisations are often seen as homogenous, however instead it is critical for us to build our tools, approaches and processes to engage with people at an individual level, that will also flex to the changing nature of the world around us.