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Five Mistakes to Avoid While Retaining Top Talent Post Pandemic

Jul 30, 2021


  • EDITORIAL TEAM Talent Management Institute
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Five Mistakes to Avoid While Retaining Top Talent Post Pandemic

As businesses return to operating in a post-pandemic environment, it is becoming clear that work has changed for good. While undergoing impactful transformations, nurturing and retaining talent are more important than ever for organizations.

Organizations implementing new strategies to improve their processes, guidelines & overall function while still struggling to stay in business in these changing times are wondering whether to pivot, preserve or perish?

Here are five mistakes to avoid if your organization wants to hold on to its shining stars.

  • Lack of performance-based rewards
  • Lack of opportunities for development
  • Lack of connection to the company strategy
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Lack of regular feedback

Lack of performance-based rewards

Money is not everything when it comes to retaining your organization’s top talent. However, not rewarding outstanding performers is a quick way towards losing them to your competitors. According to the Harvard Business Review, one of the leading factors determining the engagement of a so-called ‘rising star’ is recognition through pay.

Top performers are likely to make around 20% more effort than their colleagues in similar roles. Whilst it may not be possible to change corporate pay brackets on a whim, most businesses have other options to reward employees. These may include bonuses or different tiers of commissions.

If additional pay is not an option for your organization at the moment, consider different rewards. Example – An extended weekend leave for last week’s high performers.

Treating all of your staff equally may seem like a good idea. However, in reality, it often means your organization is not supporting high performers well enough.

Lack of opportunities for development

A great pay and benefits package may have been a major reason for someone to join your organization. However, in the long run, career development is important to most employees.

Especially those with high potential will want to see measurable progress. Provide clear goals and timetables that allow both sides to see how your employees are performing. Without those, few high performers will stay with the company for long.

Development opportunities are not always promotions. Additional qualifications and chances to upskill are high on the agenda for many top performers who enjoy learning and adding to their skillset. Consider creating a development plan that links qualifications and promotions to a longer commitment.

Having a skill development strategy for the top performers should be on top of the to-do list for all HR professionals.

Granted, the challenging economic environment over the past 18 months may have forced companies to limit what they can offer. If that is the case for your organization, be open about it. Maybe you need your current workforce to reskill? Talk to your top talent about the constraints and listen to their thoughts on what else they may be looking for. Just as your company’s circumstances change, so might your employees’ needs.

Lack of connection to the corporate strategy

Top performers see beyond their current job role. They understand the company’s ‘bigger picture’: how the organization is performing overall and where it is headed. In fact, these employees will often have a clear opinion on how likely the company is to succeed based on its current path.

Over the past 18 months, most organizations will have had to adapt and change their strategies. To succeed in managing talent and keeping them engaged, it is imperative to keep them informed about changes in your organization’s strategic direction. This creates a stronger connection between the business and the individual which helps minimize the risk of key talent leaving unexpectedly.

Apart from sharing insights into the corporate strategy, make it clear to your top performers where they are within that strategy. How is their role going to change? In which direction do you see them going in the long term?

Listen to their input. You chose your future leaders for their qualifications and insight. Taking advantage of those from the moment they join the organization not only benefits your business. It also lets your top talent see that their insight is valuable and keeps them highly engaged.

Lack of flexibility

Pay is not everything. Just as career development is a priority for many high-performing employees, so is flexibility.

Working from home or remote working may have been a necessity employees had to put up with at the start of the pandemic. By now, more top performers consider it a choice that is here to stay. This is due to a number of reasons: companies deployed tools to enable more effective remote working and employees saw the benefits of not having to commute, among others.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers expects hybrid work to be one of the major workplace trends over the coming years. Offering your top talent options to combine working from home with working from the office allows them to better balance their work and home lives.

The younger your team is, the higher the demand for remote work is likely to be. Whilst this may not be a possibility across all industries, it is an important consideration for anyone working in human resources or a related field. Top employees are sought after and have choices. If your organization is not willing to consider more flexible work models when your competitors are, expect to lose some of your most coveted staff.

Lack of regular feedback

By now, annual performance reviews have become routine for most businesses and their teams. However, having a one-on-one meeting or review with your top talent once a year only is not enough. As someone in a leadership role, you may be busy, but consider this: these are the people your organization is building its future on.

Understanding their level of engagement with the business is key. Spotting signs of dissatisfaction early allows you to address the problem and turn the situation around before your top talent decides to leave. Not all frustrations are easy to spot during day-to-day operations. They may start out small but can easily turn into bigger issues if nothing is done about them.

Saying that it is important to understand that feedback works both ways. Growing and nurturing the future leaders of your business also means supporting them in their development. Some may progress naturally from a hands-on, operational role to one that is more managerial, but most people will benefit from coaching and mentoring. Skilled top talent management means having enough contact to provide the right level of support without micro-managing.

Closing Thoughts…

Retaining high performers in your organization post-pandemic requires a combination of the right rewards, increased flexibility, and ongoing communications. This will go a long way towards keeping your top talent engaged with the company and its corporate strategy.

Priorities have shifted for many individuals and businesses over the past 18 months. As a consequence, upskilling and reskilling are now a necessity for organizations in most sectors. Managing talent successfully means ensuring that your business can (re)build a stronger foundation as we emerge from the constraints of the past months. Creating feedback opportunities and communicating openly will create trust, strengthen engagement, and essentially keep your top talent onboard your business.

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