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Top Talent Needs Different Employee Retention Strategies

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder and CEO

Retaining high−performing talent is an issue that plagues most HR departments. With the cost of employee turnover increasing substantially, finding, nurturing, and retaining top talent has become essential for every business. Developing this talent is essential for developing future leaders and promoting a culture that fosters growth from within. It is also one of the best ways to ensure that future competitive advantage through intentional and structured succession planning.

However, it is equally true that retaining high−potential employees is one of the hardest challenges that any organization faces today.

So, who are your high−potential employees?

Just like there are good men, and then there are great ones, there’s a difference between good employees and great ones. The good employees are the ones who complete their tasks on time, are productive and accountable. But what qualities do great employees exhibit?

  • High potential employees are the ones who demonstrate aspiration. They not only proactively meet the needs of their jobs but also look out for those that need more personal responsibility. They are ready to take on complex challenges.
  • They display a unique combination of great technical expertise and interpersonal skills. They also display interest in furthering their knowledge, whether it is in the personal space or in the technical arena, to improve as employees and team players.
  • While high−potential employees are competent, it is only a baseline for them. They are hyper−focused on delivering strong results credibly and are looking out for new challenges and opportunities for growth. They will also link personal growth to organizational growth.
  • These employees are also ‘force multipliers’. They help in raising the performance bar not only for themselves but also for their colleagues. They model and promote winning behaviors that help in shaping a high−performance culture.

Why do you need to identify your high−potential employees?

If the above reasons are not enough, here’s some more food for thought. According to Gartner’s research, most organizations expect 40% of today’s leadership roles to look dramatically different over the next five years.

To battle with the evolving leadership needs of the future, most organizations are looking at developing individual agility. In the lack of internal candidate readiness, organizations are likely to look outside to fill that role. This involves spending time, resources, and money on advertising, screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding the employee. Then comes the cost of lost productivity as it takes a new employee a certain time to reach the productivity levels of an existing employee. There are also

associated training costs that start from ground zero when it comes to training a new employee.

At a time when talent is critical for business success, it makes sense for organizations to look at strategies to effectively identify and retain their high−potential employees.

Retention strategies for high−potential employees

High−potential employees are your top talent. But owing to their unique characteristics, retention strategies have to focus heavily on employee engagement. However, employee engagement for these employees has to extend beyond the cosmetic appeal − high−end cafeterias, gaming rooms, or fancy annual parties do not make the cut.

Here are a few points of consideration −

1. 15% of high−potential employees are more likely to leave an organization when they are disappointed with future opportunities than non−high−potential employees. Given that these employees represent your strongest leadership pipeline, simple promotions, special projects, and pay hikes are not the most effective engagement strategies. The most effective way to engage the high potential employees is through opportunities and experiences

2. To retain high−potential employees, organizations have to ensure that they give them opportunities that provide visibility, learning, and experience. Assessing the explicit and implied needs of this demographic becomes essential. However, this exercise has to be data-driven. Organizations need to use evaluations such as 16 personality factor tests or behavioral skill assessments, along with evaluating their technical needs using assessments. These data−backed approaches help organizations additionally in identifying where these employees excel and where they need help to navigate their career paths. Organizations can then design tailor−made career paths for their high−potential talent and keep them happy and engaged.

3. One of the most−effective strategies to retain high potential talent is to pair them with effective mentors. Much like how Mentor, Odysseus trusted advisor in Homer?s Odyssey, enlightened him with life−changing wisdom, helping high potential employees interact with influential mentors helps them design their career paths.

4. The learning and development initiatives of an organization also have to get an upgrade when it comes to high−potential talent. Since this group of employees wants to work on dynamic and challenging tasks, organizations have to address this need proactively and have equally dynamic learning and development plans in place.

Whether these are to upskill or reskill their employees in order to meet the dynamic technical needs of the job, or behavioral skills enhancements to improve their leadership capabilities, organizations have to look beyond certifications and everyday employee training. This also makes sense since high−potential

employees form the leadership pipeline, and leadership training is not a day−long exercise.

5. Developing and retaining high−potential talent cannot follow an off−the−shelf model − one that has been replicated from other organizations. The potential of any employee is situational, and programs that manage such potential have to be aligned with the organizational strategy. So, for example, if an organization’s goal is to make an impact in emerging markets, it would make more sense to identify high−potential employees in those locations and also develop people who have demonstrated the capability to operate optimally in unfamiliar and daunting settings.

Organizations have to go beyond formal education programs and training to address the development needs of high−potential talent to retain them effectively. A combination of coaching, training, targeted mentoring, and providing avenues for on−the−job development is essential and have a positive impact as a retention strategy for this employee demographic. Of course, the cosmetic benefits are not redundant here. But they are definitely not the icing on the cake.

Transform your employee engagement initiatives with NumlyEngage™, a Next−Gen, Employee Engagement, Skills−Development, and Portable Skills−Network Records Platform. Connect with us to know more.

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