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A Guide to Win the War for Talent

Why is there a war for talent?

There is a full-on war for talent well underway, in large part, because of the workplace re-evaluations millions of employees around the world are undertaking. The pandemic has shown us, more than ever before in recent times, people are contemplating the meaning of their lives and careers. This leaves leaders grappling with ways to stem the tide on the loss of talent. They are reflecting on ways to engage them and build, or rebuild, loyalty. 

Beyond the cost of turnover, estimated at 33% of a role’s salary, a new digital-age leadership challenge arises. Social media access creates a sharing economy, where the impact of employee reviews on individual leaders and a company’s reputation is far-reaching. Glassdoor found that 86% of new recruits check reviews and ratings and discount employers with a poor workplace reputation. 

So, the issue is real and needs addressing. A question remains: which leadership skills are necessary to get the best outcome for our teams, and by extension our employer?

Have your people’s backs

In the war for talent, salary is a table stake – it is no longer a driving factor in our choice of employer. Employees want to know that their leaders have their back. This is achievable by offering flexible work arrangements, a genuine career path, or learning & development plans to enhance their marketability. Marketability may appear counterintuitive from management’s point of view; however, it is not. By keeping employees’ market-ready means, we are consciously and purposefully investing in the relevant skills we also need within the team.  

In this way, a leader’s authentic connection to their employees tends to result in both talent retention and company cheerleaders for the workplace environment, which is visible to job applicants.

Connections to employees are made through empathy, something covered at length in Empathy is a Life Skill

Focus on employee wellbeing

By focusing on wellbeing, the war for talent quickly shifts in our favour. For each of us, it is often the little things in life that matter. For instance, recognition for a job well done, celebrating life milestones, or giving someone time off “just because”. Spending time to understand what is happening in our team members’ lives and identifying how we can best support them, pays dividends in retaining talent. This can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Design and promote inclusive workplace policies that support all employees
  2. Invest in leadership development programs that place empathy in the core curriculum
  3. Conduct regular employee surveys, then act on the results
  4. Promote a company culture that lives and breathes these actions – reward how things are done, not just what gets done. 

In this outward view, we not only foster a workplace environment that people want to work in, but we also attract future talent to join it. 

The war for talent is an employee market

Employee retention distills down to something very simple: understanding what employees need. For far too long, employees have complained that leaders are slow to change in response to their feedback if management asks at all! In an employee market, as we have in 2022, employees will no longer put up with lip service or the status quo. 

Employees increasingly crave leaders who:

  1. Listen 
  2. Are patient
  3. Trust them
  4. Empower them
  5. Show humility
  6. Support them 

Retaining our talent means creating an energizing, positive, inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued, appreciated, and sees a future. Failing to do so will surely lead to the slow and painful demise of the company itself.

Final Thoughts

In this war for talent, we can take several steps to retain talent and attract the best talent:

  • Know what differentiates your team (and organization) from others.
  • Connect with employees. Consider carefully exit interviews, and onboarding feedback, why employees leave and why they join. Act decisively on the feedback to improve the workplace.
  • Act quickly to changing conditions to differentiate your work environment, or your competition for the talent will beat you to it!

So, the war for talent is real. A failure to address it will leave companies far short of what they need to thrive for years to come. 

Your turn

Sign in to the Community Member Area or comment below to share your views on how you or your organization are taking steps to win the war for talent. 

Give it a try!

Cartoon credit: Scott Adams – Dilbert

Cartoon credit: Guy Downes – Office Guy

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