Retaining Talent? It Starts at the Top

© Sergej Khackimullin -

Hiring and retaining top talent is critical to every business’ success. But many employers are reporting that despite the high number of job seekers in the market today, they struggle to find the right people for the jobs they have open.

To combat this, many businesses are recruiting top talent away from other companies. This is a viable threat to every company’s HR department, as a survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation reports that 80 percent of employees would consider leaving their current job if presented with other opportunities.

Given this statistic, it is more important than ever to find ways to retain your employees.

The impact of poor leadership, communication

The fad of the new millennium is “employee engagement,” though, maybe it shouldn’t be. According to CBS Moneywatch, there is little cause-and-effect between “engagement” and employee retention.

In his August 2012 article, writer Steve Tobak argues that what really motivates employees to perform and display company loyalty is “empowerment.” Key company leaders need to challenge employees to excel and provide the tools needed to succeed in order to retain top talent.

Studies have shown time and again that one of the biggest issues behind company retention is poor leadership and communication. Without a strong sense of mutual respect, the people you lead will always be looking for a way out.

A strong indication of the likelihood of whether or not an employee will leave is in how they interact with their boss. So, if the office seems a little tense and you’re worried about turnover, now’s the time to make some changes.

Invest in your leaders through training

If ineffective leadership is plaguing your workforce, then creating leadership development programs for managers and supervisors is a good place to start.

The American Society for Training and Development reported that 51 percent of companies believe the skills of their current workforce do not match today’s market challenges. Companies that invest the most in training and development see an 86 percent higher rate of return than those that do not.

There are numerous training resources available today, including pre-developed training programs, books, blogs and conferences, to help your leadership team better manage their employees. If you’re not sure what training your team needs, ask them for feedback on where they feel they’re lacking in management skills.

Article Continues Below

Or better yet, ask employees what they’re not getting from their managers. A great way to do this is through employee surveys that measure your organization’s effectiveness.

Success and failure as “teachable moments”

Henry Ford said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” There is a lot of truth in this quote, and it would benefit managers across all industries to embrace the concept that both failure and success are opportune moments to work with employees to evaluate both performance and process in order to create future successes.

Letting your employees know that the occasional failure is not only OK, but expected, will create an environment where they can take risks and reach outside the box to provide the company with creative solutions to problems. And, a creatively engaged employee is a happy employee. Conversely, successes are great moments to acknowledge what went right and can lead to open discussions on how to replicate results on future projects.

Don’t forget about company processes

Part of understanding how to effectively manage others is by understanding company policies, processes and culture. Making sure your company’s leaders can effectively implement, follow and communicate company processes and procedures is imperative to your success.

Employee turnover costs can be expensive for your business. And when one employee leaves it can have a domino effect that impacts your entire team. With the expense of replacement hiring, training and lost productivity, turnover can cost businesses billions of dollars each year.

If you’re facing the possibility of attrition in your company, start making changes by developing more effective leaders who encourage – not hinder – employee empowerment.

Jack Smalley, SPHR, serves as the director of HR learning and development for Express Employment Professionals , one of the nation’s largest privately-held staffing firms. He provides human resource training and consulting for more than 585 Express offices and clients in the U.S. and Canada. Smalley has more than 30 years experience in the HR field, including executive-level management in a number of different industries such as oil, chemical and packaging with an emphasis in manufacturing, engineering, sales, logistics and corporate management. Contact him at


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *