Issue 3, Dec 2011 - Iwa Design | Performance Leadership

Retain Your Talent to Attract More Talent

In the current age of Generation Y and the upcoming Generation Z, many companies are facing problems attracting the right talent. As important as this may seem to be, companies should focus on the bigger problem ahead of them, and that is, retaining the talent within their organisation.

It is without a doubt that retention in a company plays a much bigger role than attraction – because even if a company is able to constantly attract good talent, but subsequently has problems retaining the same talent, it will never be able to get to the place it hopes to be in. This is a recurrent issue faced especially by SMEs – but it does not have to be so. SMEs can look into a range of simple factors when assessing their employees’ retention plans in the company.

An attractive company culture is the most important thing in (talent retention. Having to work in a company filled with office politics, finger pointing, selfishness, back stabbing etc is not something that people enjoy, and is often one of the most key reasons why people leave. Therefore, it is extremely important for a company to develop an attractive company culture that people enjoy. This encourages employee loyalty and decreases the desire to leave as staff know it would be difficult to find such a strong and attractive company culture elsewhere.

Apart from the general idea of an attractive company culture, showing appreciation and giving praise where it is due come hand-in-hand in in talent retention. Nothing motivates employees more than recognition for their achievements and contributions, but unfortunately, many SMEs tend to spend more time scrutinising the errors and faults than on acknowledging the employees’ good work. A company that constantly shows appreciation for the good work done by its employees sets a tone that emphasises the company’s purpose and cultural values, and this is extremely important to employees when they are mulling the decision to move or stay put. Loyalty will increase when people feel respected and are acknowledged for the value that they are bringing to the company.

This leads to the third most important thing that companies need to keep in mind – the opportunity for growth. When employees see an opportunity to grow in their career, more often than not, they will feel less inclined to give up this chance by leaving. Therefore, it is up to the company to pave the way by showing staff the direction the company is heading, and how it also has plans for each individual in its growth plan. Chart the individual career paths of your employees so that they know their role in the company.

This is also where training should come into play. SMEs often offer a lot of learning opportunities through on the job training because employees are usually expected to take on various roles. However, this is the only learning opportunity available. More often than not, SMEs seldom send their employees out for trainings due to varying reasons such as high costs or not having a replacement in place to cover for the person on training. When considering whether or not to train the employees, the company has first to consider what will happen if it does not train them. The employees will remain at the same level as they are right now, which means that the company will also stay in that exact same condition while the competition passes it by. Should cost be an issue, a company can apply for training grants from industry or government organisations, or send out a few employees who can return to the company to train other employees. Not only will this increase the self-confidence of the trainer and deepen the bonds among colleagues, it will strengthen the company’s corporate culture. All the company has to do is to make sure is that the training is short and structured, and to ask for feedback on the usefulness of the training after it is completed. This will provide a good idea of whether the training was appropriate for the next batch of employees, or whether training in different areas would be more useful.

At the end of the day, there is so much that companies, especially SMEs, can do to retain their best talent; the key lies in knowing what these employees deem to be important. Although priorities may differ among employees, there will definitely be a sense of balance somewhere. But companies have to make the first move in the right direction. They should always keep in mind that “the more talent you retain, the more talent you will attract!”

The above article is contributed by Ms Kimberly Unwin , HR Manager, BGC Group Pte Ltd. BGC Group is a regional search & recruitment firm who provides talent to make companies successful.

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