Don’t wait for an exit interview! Retain your talent!

We call this “talent retention”. Until recently, it was just something that HR teams talked about. The goal was to come up with a strategy to prevent the best and brightest from leaving. It wasn't always taken that seriously by senior management before the pandemic. But now that has changed. Retaining talent has become an important competitive advantage in a post-Covid world.


Talent has always been in short supply in Switzerland and expensive to acquire. This hasn't changed. In fact, it has got even harder to attract talent now that the pandemic is coming to an end.


The recruitment market is hot. Many companies are struggling to hire. The advice I give them right now is to defend and grow their talent.

Most companies only focus on trying to grow their talent pool. But I believe a good offence, is an effective defence. Companies also need to make sure their existing talent does not leave.


Understanding employee sentiment is critical


Prior to the pandemic, I met a lot of disgruntled candidates who felt that their employer didn't listen to them. The reason why they were searching for a new role was because they wanted more appreciation and to be listened to.

The problem was communication. Companies were perceived as not listening because they didn't make an effort to converse with employees. When you think about it, this should be a pretty easy strategy to implement. Companies just need to ensure that conversations between line managers and staff happen on a regular basis.

It's true that during the pandemic this was difficult because many of us were working remotely, which created communication barriers. However, we adapted to this change. Many of us have now returned to the office, which has brought down this barrier. And, for those who are still working remotely, innovations such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have removed this impediment.

Having a conversation is incredibly powerful. It collects a lot of information and can allow a company to get a better understanding of what their employees want. It also allows them to understand their weak spots in trying to promote their employer brand. Subsequently, they can see the risk of talent leaving clearly and can develop a forward-looking strategy to prevent it.


What should a talent retention strategy look like?


It doesn't have to be very complicated. As you guessed, simply encouraging conversations between line managers and employees can be extremely effective. There are other techniques that can also be applied.

Upgrading the benefits package can go a long way by addressing the shifting needs that employees have in a post-pandemic world. The obvious change that can be made is by promoting a flexible work culture. Many of the candidates I meet are looking for new roles because they want flexible working.

Other potential benefits that could be offered could be more sponsorship for academic qualifications and showing a clear path for career development. It could be as simple as showing employees what they need to do to get promoted.

If that dreaded resignation letter is received, companies can quickly match whatever package has been received and throw in a little bit more. This might be a pay rise, sponsorship for training, or a greater holiday allowance.

It is a more effective strategy than many companies realise. There's a huge risk when you change jobs. It's uncomfortable stepping into the unknown. And, if you offer a talented employee the same, or even a better package, it's likely that they will stay.

Pay rises, more flexible working, promotion, training, or just a clear path to career progression might be all that is needed to put off talented employees from leaving.


The risk of leaving isn't lost on talented candidates


Stepping into the unknown is uncomfortable. But uncertainty is actually an employer's best friend. All they need to do is make a nice comfortable offer that counters the reason why an employee might leave.

Obviously, you need to get to the root cause of why an employee is leaving. It could be because of more money, better training opportunities or potential career development. If an employer can match what's on offer, they stand the chance of keeping the employee.

It removes the need to move and step into the unknown for the employee. Unless that employee is extremely unhappy, there is a good chance that they will stay.


Talent retention has many benefits


Companies that are able to retain their talent and lower their staff turnover often benefit financially. It's easier for a company that retains its talent to develop a strong work culture and employer brand. Those loyal employees are part of that driving force and this represents a strong positive image for the company.

Companies also lock in a lot of knowledge and wisdom within the company, which gives them a competitive advantage over the long term.

Retaining talent really ought to be a top priority in today's recruitment market. Ignoring it could hurt a company financially.