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The untold secrets to retain key talent

Sharon Seet, Global HR Director, Yanmar, dives into the 3Cs by which HR and business leaders have the opportunity to retain their key talent.

Key talent is someone who is high-performing and stands out against their peers. They are continuously innovating, possess a lifelong-learning attitude, and have a can-do spirit. They tend to add the most value to their businesses and customers.

Such employees look at how they are treated at the workplace on a daily basis. This includes their surroundings, the work environment, the tone of their managers and peers, their aspirations, and seeing their top management walk the talk.

Early exit triggers are the early ‘push’ signs where your key talent has the thought of leaving first imprinted in their mind when something bad happens to them.

Once the trigger happens, your employees will start to count the number of strikes on every minor matters which frustrate them. By the time they lose counts, your key talent are already one foot out of your organisation if there is no intervention at the very first exit trigger.

Losing them doesn’t mean they quit and leave, losing them can also means they are physically with you but have checked out mentally. This can be daunting as they no longer perform at their peak and will not go the extra mile for the organisation.

There are many kind of early exit triggers, but experts say that managers should also look out for early exit signs from employees that they are unhappy at work.

Triggers and signs are different. Triggers are what cause you to be upset whereas signs are the reactions you choose to respond to the cause. For instance, if you miss the promotion you thought you had in the bag without any reasons given by your management; you start to lose trust, morale, engagement, and start looking out for outside opportunities.

The average economic cost to a company of turning over a highly skilled job is 213% of the cost of one year’s compensation for that role.

Managers and HR need to work hand-in-hand to help motivate and address the issues of such employees by watching over these triggers and signs.

Employee turnover can be very expensive. It includes hiring cost, onboarding cost, learning and development cost, and the cost of a vacancy. A paper from the Center for American Progress, citing 11 research papers published over a 15-year period, determined that the average economic cost to a company of turning over a highly skilled job is 213% of the cost of one year’s compensation for that role.

According to the Randstad Employer Brand Research 2018, unsatisfactory compensation (44%), limited career path (43%) and insufficient challenges (30%) are the main reasons that employees look for a job elsewhere. For 28%, work-life balance issues make them quit, while for 27% a lack of recognition is a factor to drive them away.

#1: Culture

Culture is how we been treated during the interview, workplace environment, the boss’ working style, employee total experience, fairness in performance appraisals, and even methods of communication.

Companies can change culture by building retention policies which comprises retention bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, sign-on bonuses, educational sponsorship with company bond, dependent family insurance coverage, maternity/paternity cash rewards, home buying assistance, and more, depending on the company cash and culture.

We must also bear in mind that retention cannot be achieved purely through money, we need to also take into consideration of the development and well-being of our employees. We can promote work-life balance programmes such as flexi-time, job sharing, equal opportunity (regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation), paid time-off (i.e. birthdays, off-in-lieu), telecommuting and so on.

We need to ask our colleagues how they’re doing.  When people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential.

#2: Care

According to Businessolver’s 2017 Workplace Empathy Monitor report, empathy has a direct impact on employee productivity, loyalty, and engagement. Three in four (77%) workers would be willing to work more hours for a more empathetic workplace; meanwhile, 60% would accept a slashed salary for it.

Additionally, 92% of HR professionals note that a compassionate workplace is a major factor for employee retention, even as four in five (80%) Millennials say they would leave their current job if their office became less empathetic, a sentiment shared by 66% of Baby Boomers.

People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

If we cannot empathise with others then we are unlikely to care about them. People are not robots or machines which can be programmed into what they should be doing on a daily basis. People have feelings.

Perhaps, care is another key ingredient that you should be looking into to retain your key talent. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

#3: Coach

The goal of coaching in a work context is to help the employee learn rather than teach them. In general, coaching can be used as a great intervention for influencing individual-level outcomes. Studies also indicate that coaching is an effective tool for improving the functioning of individuals in organisations.

Now we know that coaching works, but how does it work?

In my experience, coaching is about focusing on what problem your coachee (the person to be coached) wants to solve and follow through on their thought process, bearing in mind that they already have the possible solutions and options in their mind. There must be no distraction in that conversation.

We need to coach for awareness, ask for clarity and bring them from the ‘now’ to the ‘future’ state. The final action plan lies in the ownership of the coachee.

I have designed a coaching intervention model for both employees and managers which you will find in my new book once it is launched. I hope this will aid your intention to retain your key talent!

Photo / StockUnlimited



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