UPFRONT Leading the talent war

The forces that are fuelling increased competition for skilled workers – from demographic shifts to greater employee mobility – have already made talent management key HR priority.
The number of people leaving the workforce is now greater than those joining and this will continue to be the case until at least 2020. Already there are more jobs requiring talented individuals than there are people to do them – and as the number of jobs increases, this skill gap will continue to grow.
Traditional retention management practices have centred on the key HR pro-cesses and principally on developing competitive attraction strategies. Organisations starting to feel the recruitment pinch are offering better pay and conditions, more training and development. Employer branding is the current buzz and new role is popping up in some large employers – the talent attraction manager.
However when it comes to addressing skill shortages, this is only half the equation.
Research tells us that people join organisations for job and organisational factors (pay, conditions, company reputation, nature and structure of the work etc) but – and this is the key – they leave managers.
Employees will stay with an organisation if they have good relationship and open communication with their immediate boss. Organisations that develop and promote managers for their ability to retain people will win the longer term battle for skills.
TalentKeepers, US-based retention specialist and researcher, outlines 10 key leadership skills that link directly to decreasing turnover and the associated costs.
1 Trust builder: creates sense of trust and concern with team members.
2 Esteem builder: develops ways to give team members responsibility, the freedom to act and to feel good about themselves.
3 Communicator: communicates the importance of retention and where the team fits into the bigger picture.
4 Climate builder: develops ways to make work and the workplace enjoyable and fulfilling.
5 Flexibility expert: recognises, understands and adapts to individual needs and views.
6 Talent developer and coach: develops and coaches team members to help them grow, resulting in greater commitment and loyalty to the organisation.
7 High performance builder: creates conditions that reinforce high levels of team member performance, particularly crucial to retaining the most talented people.
8 Retention expert: understands retention and the underlying values central to initiating effective retention-focused actions.
9 Retention monitor: demonstrates ability to measure and identify retention issues and take pre-emptive action.
10 Talent finder: within the scope of the role, actively seeks and attracts talented individuals.
Organisations well prepared for the new employment environment will:
1 Ensure that retention is on the executive management and board agenda;
2 Ensure all first line managers are held accountable for their retention rates;
3 Engage employees actively as retention agents to help the organisation understand why people join, stay and leave, as well as actively encouraging colleagues to raise and resolve issues early rather than decide to leave;
4 Promote leaders on the basis of their retention skills;
5 Measure, manage and understand the direct and indirect costs of attrition, particularly of the high performing talent pool;
6 Put in place an integrated approach to measuring, monitoring and managing retention and linking all leaders across the organisation.
Veronica White is an associate of recruitment and retention specialists Morrison Low and represents TalentKeepers in Australia and New Zealand. [email protected]

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