Throughout my years of engaging with various organisations, I have been repeatedly surprised at the lack of focus on talent retention. In today’s dynamic talent market, most organisations allocate significant amounts of resources and time on talent acquisition.

But the same organisations tend to overlook retaining this talent once they are on-board. This leads to organisations loosing key employees who they have worked so hard to ttract, recruit and train.

Does your organisation have a talent retention strategy?

One common misconception is that talent retention is solely based on compensation. Our own experience is in line with research, which shows that this is not the case in most organisations. In reality the drivers of retention are related to the deep human psyche that needs to feel secure, appreciated and successful. As such, a retention strategy should focus on the following key elements:

1) Leadership Styles of Managers

  • Leadership Style refers to the pattern of behaviour, an individual manager/superiors uses across the full range of management situations. Research has shown that Leadership Style is the variable with the greatest impact on the Organisational Climate. Organisational Climate is the individual’s perception of those aspects of the Organisation that directly affect how well a person can do his or her job. Organisational Climate has the greatest impact on the individual talent’s performance. The more positively talent perceive their climate to be, the greater the discretionary effort they put into their jobs; this greater discretionary effort is demonstrated in a variety of ways such as a higher commitment to quality, to output and to increasing customer satisfaction. Thus the breadth of a manager’s repertoire of styles determines his or her effectiveness. Managers prefer to use styles that feel “natural” to them and therefore may limit themselves to using only those styles that come naturally. As cliché as it sounds, the notion still holds true for many talents – “joined the Company because of the employer brand, leaves the company because of the boss.”

2) Sense of Purpose – Grand Vision

  • The biggest mistake employers can make is to regard their employees as machines working for money. Human being have a deep ingrained need to make a difference in society and be recognised for it. As such, employees are also looking to contribute to a “Grand Vision” as part of their job. No one does this better than the technology companies. The best programmers in the world join and stay with Google because they believe they are changing the world!
  • In Daniel Pink’s famous meta-analysis in the best seller Drive, he showed Sense of Purpose or what he defines as “the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves” is one of the three key elements that drive employees’ motivation.

3) Performance Management

  • While most organisations have some form of performance appraisal in place, there are still many gaps in implementing a robust performance management system that is both fair and transparent. Talent have the propensity to want to know where they stand in terms of the organization’s expectations and likewise the organization would benefit from this clarity.
  • The survey found that 50% of employees who have undergone a review process that is focused on helping them succeed in their role feel more valued. Managers who do not take performance management seriously often risk talent attrition and also limit the business potential. Managers need to constantly focus on providing feedback and debriefing to employees on major assignments and projects as a continuous development. The ability to put in place a good Performance Management System would develop talent to help them succeed and stay aligned with the goals of the organisation.

4) Hire the right person

  • Right role fit and organization culture fit is so critical in talent acquisition. As there is a feverish competition for talent, most organization would be in a rush to fill up positions. A good indicator of how well the person-role-culture fit would be attrition level within a year of employment. Retainable talent show a clear commitment to contribute their skills and best efforts to the organization for the long term. Organisations that establish clear expectations during recruitment are also in a better position to retain the acquired talent.

5) Career Path

  • High-potential talent do not simply walk out the door and disappear overnight. Rather, an organization’s leadership neglects to look ahead to anticipate, plan for, and develop their workforce of the future. Today’s talent look forward to have a structured and clear career progression roadmap and differentiation in work accountabilities and exposure opportunities in their career progression. Organisations that have a structured career management framework will be able to reconcile an individual talent and organisational objectives for the development of relevant skills and abilities over time, continuous role engagement with the talent in their work, making them feel valued, and fostering commitment to the organisation.

6) Employee Engagement

  • Increased employee engagement implies that employees are satisfied with their job which in turn can lead to a happier work and home life balance. It can also result in a declined rate of talent that voluntarily leaves their jobs. Engaged talents are focused, committed, energetic, and feel a sense of ownership in the organization. They take personal stakeholder responsibility for the success of their organisations, and maintain a higher level of trust for current leadership.

7) Talent retention programs and monitoring

  • Organisations that specifically put in place a structured program gives it focus to identify hotspots that may lead to talent attrition. A structured program will need to have elements of assessment, root-cause analysis and action plans. Assessment may include having the periodic employee engagement surveys, talent focus group discussions and even getting feedback from different sources such as assessment via organisational culture diagnostics. Root-cause analysis can determined using various problem solving and critical analysis methodology and action planning should be best done with similar rigour and robustness of a business strategy implementation process. Once all these elements are in place, the organisation will be in a good position to manage its talent retention.


We at ChangeDynamics ( have successfully helped clients to develop and implementation different aspects of talent retention strategies to reduce talent attrition. This include putting in place structured Leadership Development Programs, robust Performance Management Systems, well defined Career Management Framework, Employee Engagement Surveys and Diagnostics, Assessment Centres for right Talent Acquisition and structured Talent Development. While we found that Compensation is not a silver bullet for Talent Retention, we have also found many organisations lacked the necessary dynamic compensation framework and policies to drive talent retention. At such, we have also helped many organisations to revamp their Compensation framework and strategies.

If talent retention is a challenge for your organisation, please contact us to learn what you can do and how to do it. We are happy to have a no commitment discussion to exchange ideas that may help your organisation.