Retaining Tomorrow’s Talent

In a 2007 report from Deloitte Research’s Robin Athey looking at “Connecting People to What Matters” they set out how they believe organisations should go about holding on to and nurturing their most important employees. This in answer to the first part of the series, where Athey showed how “the most effective recruitment tactics […] don’t address the core drivers of talent churn.”

In the report we are told that the most important factor in today’s increasingly competitive environment for talented individuals is ‘connecting’. With three core types of connecting mattering most to performance: People-to-People, People-to-Purpose, and People-to-Resources (See graphic).

The Connect Model (Deloitte Research)

The Connect Model (Deloitte Research)

People-to-People requires the organisation to facilitate the “building and sustaining [of] intentional networks of high-quality networks”, and as part of this formation of formal (and informal) communities of practice (as I have mentioned in previous posts) the organisation can help to develop their people. As, Athey says [although others might disagree], “it is through personal relationships that people learn how to perform complicated tasks, manage difficult colleagues, or navigate corporate politics. One estimate suggests that more than 70 percent of what people know about their jobs, they learn through everyday interactions with colleagues.”

People-to-Purpose needs four factors to be met: Motivating work, A sense of belonging, Pride of mission, Strategic direction.

People-to-Resources “mean[s] enabling them to manage knowledge, technology, time, and physical space in ways that improve their performance and allow them to adapt to change.” One very interesting point made by Athey is that organisations have “reengineered out” any slack in terms of time, flexibility and budgets, what they call an ‘organizational cushion’. And this in turn curtails technological innovation and employees’ ability to do great work.

So, by providing a framework to support these three needs, organisations can increase the likelihood that their employees will be productive through meeting their performance potential. And by meeting the employee’s desire for better skills and experiences, organisations can attract and retain the most talented workers, hopefully giving them a competitive edge. As John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison say in their recent HBR blog post:

“Talented workers join companies and stay there because they believe they’ll learn faster and better than they would at other employers.”

What does Richard think about this?

As I have said in a previous post, I believe that in the current tough economic climate companies should be looking to use any slack time to develop their workforce and devote time to coming up with new ideas, finding efficiencies, defining the future strategic direction. The ‘organizational cushion’ is going to be temporarily enlarged (although not in terms of budgets!), and businesses need to find a way to facilitate the productive use of that cushion, be that through a relaxing of procedures (or increase), organised periods of ‘innovation time’, create something akin to Google’s “20% time”.

From my own experience I think everyone should have their own personal project with extended deadlines (>6mths), which builds on their knowledge, skills, and job role to create something which could provide something beneficial to the organisation.


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