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Employability Today: Part 7 – Strategies to Retaining Top Talent

Strategies to Retaining Top Talent

Employability Today: Part 7


Now that we’ve learned how to identify and select top talent and have a better understanding of the challenges of today’s work force, it’s time to look at various strategies that you can employ within your business to help not only keep your best employees engaged, but to help take them to the next level and assure they stay employable. 

Retaining Talent Through the Generations –

Today, companies, organizations, and institutions offer fewer opportunities for individuals with education and skill, as they are accomplishing more with fewer people. HR officers and all others with the daily responsibility for identifying, attracting, recruiting, and retaining Employable Talent are under more pressure to make the right hire and make it the first time. There are harder choices to make among applicants and no place to hide the choices that don’t work out.

In this new era, employers must embrace new responsibilities, as do the individuals. The new organizational responsibility—impacting organizational stakeholders and shareholders—is to keep individuals employable so that they can continue to add value to the organization and lead it into the future. 

While a company can’t offer anyone the potential for lifetime employment, it has a responsibility to help people maintain employability and grow within the organization to meet the vast array of ever-present and future challenges. This benefits all.

Individuals employed within your organization already know some or all the ropes, the jargon, how to work with your software, and how to navigate within the culture. This is everyday human endeavor. With turnover, you waste weeks, if not months, seeking to identify, attract, recruit, and retain new people who then need to be brought up-to-speed regarding the organizational culture as well as their new jobs. 

Avoiding turnover while maximizing your employee’s potential is the ideal situation for any HR manager and CEO – and it doesn’t have to be rocket science.  Obviously, offering competitive compensation attracts and helps to retain your talented employees. Beyond money, what can you and your company do to hold on to your top talent? 

Employee trainingTraining and Continuous Learning

While each generation’s motives for continuing education may be different, it is clear that additional training and learning opportunities are valued highly among all. Offering a variety of learning experiences and training will help to appeal to all learning styles within your organization.

Seniors, just as much as the Millennials and I-Gen’s, appreciate new opportunities for learning. They’re as likely as anyone to participate in interdepartmental meetings, conferences, training programs, webinars, and other venues for making connections, acquiring new skills, and serving as solid team members.

While Seniors, Boomers, and even Gen-Xer’s find comfort in traditional-type training programs held in classrooms, such extended sessions often feel like dramatic overkill to Millennials. The training they seek is not usually one week away at a conference center. They have learned to acquire their knowledge in clumps. Because of their familiarity with most things technical, they can hop online to gain instant access, as needed, to numerous on-demand learning resources. They adapt well to technology delivered programs. On-demand programs are highly valued.

Coaching and Mentoring 

For most employees today, it holds true that they prefer to be managed by supervisors who serve more as coaches than as overlords. They are more likely to respond to personable, effective bosses and give their allegiance to those people rather than to the organizations. Many regard their immediate supervisors as vital to their experience in working for your organization. If they have a strong relationship with managers directly above them, odds are, they’ll stay on longer. Strong relationships individually yield greater loyalty to the organization.  

A unique approach to mentoring is to link Seniors or Boomers with Millennials and I-Gens through coaching, formal or informal mentoring, or job shadowing helps to maintain a continuity of knowledge, skills, and organizational know-how. You want the other generations to glean from Seniors their accumulated wisdom and to benefit from their insights, maturity, and balanced approach to everyday situations. The lessons that Seniors have to impart and examples they can provide about stamina, collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork can prove to be valuable to work force newbies, who are predisposed to pursue narrow self-interests.  

work environmentWork Environment 

Often companies who employ younger generations don’t comprehend their ways. Instead of nurturing their individual personalities and aspirations, they confine them to cubicles, shackle them with regimen, and burden them with personnel policies and procedures.   

What do these younger employees have on their workplace wish list? They are a high-energy group, and they derive that energy from the atmosphere surrounding them. They want to arrange their workspaces to reflect their personal style and to adorn it with the art and artifacts that are comfortable and reassuring to them. 

Organizations with more lenient dress codes—that acknowledge that professional staff are adults fully capable of making their own decisions with regards to appropriate dress— will be looked upon more favorably than those with less flexible policies. These younger generations also appreciate an open-door atmosphere in which they can appropriately but freely voice their concerns without having to pay homage to long-standing protocols. They also want the higher-ups to listen—and act on their ideas—when they present valid concerns along with practical solutions.  

Offer more control over work time. Telecommuting can make sense on many levels, offering flexibility to complete tasks and projects. Allowing employees control over how and when they work can boost morale considerably. The emphasis is on the results — not the face-time, not the hours clocked, not the 9-5 mindset. For this to succeed, senior management needs to buy into the process and have defined goals and expectations of their staff. Companies that offer employees more control tend to experience higher satisfaction and less turnover.   

Provide meaning

Ask your talent not only to contribute to goal setting, but the path it will take to complete the goals. In addition, remind your staff about how their part of the process benefits the company — and themselves. People who feel meaning and competency behind their work are more likely to want to do the work, do it at a high level, and look for ways to benefit the company even more. 

Employee RecognitionRecognition and Rewards

Make sure that you trumpet your talents and successes, through company-wide communications and meetings. Your customers matter and your staff matters. Make your employees feel valued, and your customers benefit. Listen to your employees, find out what matters to them, and recognize and reward your go-getters. 

Similar in some respects to Millennials, Baby Boomers crave recognition and in some cases, constant praise. They want to be acknowledged for their achievements, both privately and publicly. They were raised in an era in which everything—jobs, mates, parking spots—was subject to vigorous competition. As a result, their need to be acknowledged for their contributions, hard work, and results will stay with the Boomers for the duration of their careers. All employees want and need to be heard. Listening to what they have to say and the potential solutions they have to offer goes a long way in making your talent feel valued, respected, and needed. 

Competition is Good! 

Company-wide or department-wide contests feed the need to succeed and shine in high-performing employees. Not only is competition between people, it is often within the individual. Offer facts, statistics and challenges to your top talent and watch them strive within themselves to produce more.  


Coming up, get Dr. David Miles’ final thoughts on Employability Today and how to successfully implement the Four Pillars of Employable Talent in your organizational practices.



Dr. David Miles is Chairman of the Miles LeHane Companies, Inc. He is a member of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), a member and founding chapter President of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the Association of Career Professionals (ACP) and a Charter Fellow of the Institute of Career Certification International (ICC International), as the largest global non-profit certification Institute.  Author of The Four Pillars of Employable Talent and Building Block Essentials.  Follow David on Twitter @David_C_Miles

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