Retaining Talent: The Secret Code

Retaining Talent: The Secret Code
Robert Walter's Raja Ahmad Muzamir shares the three things to keeping employees happy and engaged in the long run. Photo/Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR: An age old HR challenge is to retain good talent in the long run. Especially for the middle and senior level positions, it is costly to replace a talent in the company as it involves a search process, interview cycles, negotiations and adaptation to the new role before the speed and momentum returns to the role.

While job loyalty is entirely possible to achieve in the long run, efforts to retain talent should be ongoing and continuously renewed to fit the current environment. Companies need to first understand the challenges and then take pre-emptive action to ensure employees feel appreciated, heard and rewarded in the company.
Over the years, there have been three recurring challenges in retaining talent at the middle and senior level. The first is lack of challenging environment at the workplace. Proactive talent with desire to grow in their career will always look for new tasks or projects to complete and if the company does not provide them, the employee might seek it elsewhere.

Second is when employees feel that there is a clash between their values and the company’s or if the company does not uphold the values it espoused. There can be many scenarios in which this may happen but most commonly it is due to unethical practices, biases at the workplace or disparity in employee management.
Third is poor communication from the company. This can make it difficult for employees to feel invested in their work and may result them feeling unmotivated and in certain cases, can lead to resignations. Employees want to be heard. Their job satisfaction may hinge on whether their feedback or ideas are taken into consideration. 

Despite these challenges, companies should also look at sustainable, long term solutions to address them. Some of the recommendations are:

Strong company culture
Company must have strong values and culture that are communicated well to employees and stakeholders, so that it becomes a part of their DNA. Collectively, the management must uphold these values to show employees that this is a binding factor and a shared aspiration.

Motivation indicators
Line managers and HR must be able to recognise what motivates talents. As motivating factors may differ, the style of managing should also differ. The recognition must also come with a certain form of rewards (not always monetary) but also through timely promotions, public acknowledgement and more. Best way of keeping connected to performing employees are feedbacks and appraisals done promptly instead of the classic annual reviews. Many employees stay with the company due to intrinsic rewards like flexibility, recognition, growth opportunities and team spirit.

Clear communication
Companies that invest time and effort in delivering clear communications will benefit. They must also establish a two-way communication which allows employees to provide feedback and management must deliberate and act upon these proactively. Companies should take advantage of technology and use multiple channels to have conversations with their employees. 

Continuous training and development
Companies must be invested to build the careers of their employees. Putting them in repetitive roles with no room for new tasks or to learn new knowledge can dampen employees' spirits. They need to see visible efforts of the company helping them to better or expand their skills. At the end of the day, this does not benefit the employee alone but also improves the quality of work delivered for the company.

Job rotation is another method that has been practiced by many successful organisations to retain their employees. This keeps employees challenged while providing them an opportunity to work in different departments to upskill themselves.

On the whole, the management have to empower HR department and leaders to adopt new methods in managing talents so that their retention rates can be improved.