November 17, 2019

Retaining Top Talent

A common complaint we hear from companies is they invest considerable time and effort in hiring top talent, only to see them leave two years later. Management guru Jim Collins spoke for many when he said: “… the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

This situation is becoming worse as Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to change jobs frequently and place a greater emphasis on purpose and values over salary and perks.  We think the problem is due in no small part to companies regarding hiring an employee as the end of the process, rather than the beginning.

Back in 2014, a survey by The Energy Project and Harvard Business Review found only 7% of employees had all their core needs met by their current job.  A staggering 73% had only one, or none, met.  Core needs included things like job satisfaction, trust in management, a sense of mission or purpose and time to prioritise and focus.  A 2019 survey by Deloitte suggested things haven’t changed much.

Creating an effective talent retention strategy requires time, effort and planning.  Simply put, it must minimise “push” factors that cause people to leave and maximise “pull” factors that make them want to join and stay.  We believe there are a number of practical actions you can take that will improve the situation.

  • Know who your key performers are and understand what they value and what might cause them to leave. This is especially important if you and they are of different generations.  Pay and perks alone often aren’t enough to keep someone in a job, they need to feel valued, encouraged and involved
  • Provide constructive feedback as often as possible, not just at the annual review. Train your managers to give feedback effectively – it’s a skill that must be learned and practiced.  Make coaching and mentoring the norm.
  • Remove cumbersome processes and give your people the tools to do their job well. Problems like bad IT, frustration from needless bureaucracy and low-level paper pushing is a common demotivator.
  • Create a learning culture by encouraging and enabling professional, and personal, development. Provide increasingly innovative, challenging and stimulating work.
  • Be flexible. Remote working and flexible hours improve job satisfaction and engagement – and demonstrate you trust your people.
  • Ensure your employees feel like they have a voice – and that you’re listening. Create opportunities and environments for regular open dialogue.  Encourage communities and use technology to create digital spaces for feedback and problem solving.

Retaining top talent is a real and growing challenge however, the business case is compelling.  According to an MIT study, companies with a top-quartile rating for employee experience had 25% higher profits than bottom-quartile companies and twice the levels of innovation and customer satisfaction.  What are you doing to protect your most valuable asset?

Here at Changemaker, we support organisations and individuals in delivering sustainable and lasting change.  A competitive people strategy is fundamental to an organisations’ continued growth and success, it’s not just about retaining top talent but attracting top talent as well. If you want to learn more about how Changemaker could support you in attracting and retaining top talent visit our website or ( or email us at

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