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Filling The Pool

With the U.S. economy consistently recovering and growing over the past couple of years, the labor market continues to tighten. As a result, employers are finding themselves increasingly worried about whether they will have the necessary talent needed to drive business success and support their own growth.

When faced with this challenge, most companies focus on external talent – they want to know where the supply of new hires will come from and when. They often build up their own internal talent acquisition function, sometimes making the dubious assumption that increasing resources to this team will solve their problem. In reality, this is rarely a solution.

In fact, I recently had the opportunity to pose this question to a group of executives:

Which of these is more challenging in your business?

    • Finding great talent
    • Keeping great talent

 

By a margin of 2:1, survey respondents said they had more trouble keeping talent.  

 As with most things related to people and organizations, there can be several variables at play when you are not retaining the talent you most need in your company. Some of these issues are under your control and others are not. However, if you want to understand what might be going on in your company, I suggest you ask yourself these questions:

    • What do employees think of your culture? Sometimes it’s hard to understand what employees truly think about your company. How can you find out what’s on their minds? For starters, employee survey tools can help. Some leaders take time to meet with cross-sections of employees over donuts and coffee to listen to their concerns on a regular basis. Even more informally, spending some time with front line employees can be quite revealing. No matter how you do it, find a way to listen to what your employees think about your company.
    • Why do people leave your company? This is a simple question that can be difficult to answer. It is easy for managers to pin employee departures on compensation and promotions. Certainly, that can be part of the answer; but more often than not, there are other factors in play. Sometimes it involves the style of the supervisor someone is working for. Maybe it’s a perception that a person’s contributions are not valued. Or, maybe you have a problem with sexual harassment or discrimination that you don’t know about. Rather than guessing or assuming you have the right information, exit interviews with departing employees should always be conducted. If you think you are not getting the real story from departing employees in these interviews, find a third party to help conduct them confidentially. You might be surprised by what you find.
    • Are your rewards programs in line with your industry and region? Although compensation is seldom the primary reason for employee departures, it is still an important factor. You should have a clear, accurate picture of how your rewards programs stack up against other companies in your business sector, as well as other employers vying for the same talent. Base pay is important, of course, but don’t forget to evaluate health benefits, 401(k) plans, paid time off, flexible work schedules, education reimbursement benefits and everything else. In addition, be sure your rewards calibrate to the demographics of your workforce. Twenty-something’s are probably not as interested in the 401(k) plan as they are in flexible hours and paid time off. Pay attention to the different needs in your organization and it will help you design more attractive rewards programs.
    • Do your highest potential employees know they are valued? Most high-potential employees discover how valuable they are to their employer when they go into their boss’s office and resign. Make sure you let your future leaders know how you view them and what they need to develop to move forward. Consider providing them with developmental assignments, mentors, educational experiences and coaches.  

You will always need to pay attention to bringing outside talent into your organization. Some amount of turnover is both normal and healthy, and adding new employees can bring new ideas and perspectives into your organization. The trick is making sure that you are adding talent because you want to, and not because you have to. 

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