Todays’ workforce exists in a rush of change where on the one end of the spectrum, new entrants are joining the workforce, and on the other, there is an educated and knowledgeable workforce that has come of age over a few decades.
Today, these same individuals are increasingly becoming dispensable as the world and market place becomes more globally connected and continuously epitomised by recurring change. The accelerated pace of change, increased complexity of the business environment, and the requirement for individual differentiation places a new premium on retention of critical skills as a talent resource base for business viability and performance, as employees and talent possessing critical skills are becoming more selective about the types of organisations they join.
For leaders, being responsible for designing and implementing successful business strategies, organisations face clear challenges and, one of those main challenges is retention of critical skills in a world of talent mobility. Furthermore, constrained economic conditions compound the need for organisations to keep their best people as companies strive to control costs and increase productivity.
One of the reasons why organisations, and the CDC in particular, drives development and retention of critical skills is to increase the necessary capacity and levels of flexibility so that it has aptitude to deal with its own complexities and strengthen its propensity to self-organise.
Talent retention strategies are therefore important in all organisations for the following reasons:
- Sustained intellectual capability to execute the organisations’ strategy resulting in unrelenting relevance and professional excellence;
- Strengthened viability and execution of value creating work;
- Credibility and positive reputation ensuing from high quality and consistency of delivery which enhances the employer brand and its recognition by talent and appreciation by the market;
- Enhanced employee motivation and commitment demonstrated through levels of productivity and performance with a direct contribution towards professional growth and development;
- Better prospects for organisational growth and repositioning in the market due to the strength of skills capacity and sound resource base as sustainable competitive advantage is based on exploiting, exploring and retaining knowledge and critical skills.
For as long as a person operates in a non-static, dynamic, and competitive environment, the management tactics and strategies should be progressive and vigorous enough to respond to the value and appreciation of talent.
A better approach is to address retention proactively and as a strategic issue, and organisations can consider the following strategies for retention with special emphasis on critical skills:
Hire retainable employees as effective retention mechanisms
Begin with hiring the right talent in the first place to enable employees with critical skills to become strong contributors who are valuable, and that which organisations want to retain. Equally, employees who are a good fit for the position and perform well will want to stay with the organisation. For the CDC, fitness for purpose, ability to function in an unstructured and chaotic environment, sustained performance levels, aptitude and pliability for exposure and preparedness to take on new and diverse responsibilities, learning and sharing, understanding and alignment the value system, and taking responsibility for personal development.
To become a best practice organisation
Best practice organisations help individuals plan to stay with the organisation by designing and developing careers and not just filling roles, so as to offer challenging roles which are equally rewarding by offering a path to greater pay, responsibility and recognition for it is not every employee that can rise to become a CEO, but, every employee can build skills.
Invest in line managers
Line managers can help the organisation reduce turnover by training them on how to empower employees to succeed and grow, rather than to just drive performance.
Keeping the lines of communication clear
Information on career opportunities within the organisation between employees and managers is critical, especially because career goals change over time.
It is thus important for line managers to build more opportunities for employee check-ins (formal and informal) with managers, as individualised conversations need to happen on a regular basis.
This tactic is purely premised on the notion that the success of retention strategies are ultimately subject to the line managers’ ability to deliver on initiatives put in place by the organisation because, “Whatever the company values, the organisation has to be sure that managers are executing on it.”
Making retention personal for skills
The retention of critical skills is a more persuasive approach and resounding technique for the success and sustainability of the business, as every employee is motivated by different things, and retention strategies thus need to be tailored down to the individual level.
Importantly, all employees are valuable; however, some employees have skills that are of vital importance to the organisations’ performance, relevance and sustainability. It is thus important therefore for organisations in their management strategies to treat critical skills as extremely valuable, exceptional, and irreplaceable, and for the managers to be well equipped to support the strategies engaged.
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