Retaining Top Talent

True for our enterprises, true also for the country, retaining Top Talents is essential. Our future is dependent on nurturing and retaining them.  The counter forces playing against us in Mauritius are the combined mobility and employability of the top talents and the attraction of opportunities abroad.

For a number of decades already, the smart Singapore governments has stated that the future wealth of Singapore depended on the brains that the country possesses. The pragmatic Singaporean do not only states their thinking but put it to action immediately. I recall over 15 years ago, a Mauritian student of the University of Nottingham was surprised the day after he won the top award for all UK Universities competition, to get the visit of a Singapore official offering him a job in Singapore. I believe the Singapore officials scout the world’s universities for talents.

During the week, I had the chance of meeting a young entrepreneur of 30 who successfully started a service company in IT in Mauritius 3 years ago. He has decided to migrate to Australia. He left today for Melbourne. How many more of our Talents are leaving Mauritius?

B. Lynn Ware discusses on the subject in relation to a company in the extract below. We may use her thoughts to extrapolate to our country.

Today the challenge of sustaining a competitive advantage preoccupies the minds of many leaders. Customers have many providers to choose from, and they often perceive your product as a commodity. How do you distinguish yourself? Today, leaders depend on their top performers to innovate and provide superior products and services that differentiate the company and get results for shareholders.

We addressed the attrition dilemma by conducting research with 30 companies. Here are five key findings:

1. The costs of attrition can be staggering, but often hidden. Do you know what it costs when you lose a top performers? Some costs factors are obvious, such as the productivity losses. However, there are often unseen costs. One company estimates it loses $150,000 when an employee leaves. Another company calculates that attrition costs them annual productivity losses of 65 to 75 percent in the position the employee departs. Another estimates $1 million of potentially lost sales when one salesperson leaves. Multiply these costs by the number of employees who leave in a year, and you see the impact is dramatic.

2. The reasons employees stay are not the same as why they leave. Most managers don’t know the real reasons why employees stay, or why they depart. They may try to capture the causes of attrition through exit interviews, but these fail to differentiate between factors that make the new job attractive, versus the reasons why employees consider leaving. When asked to diagnose the reasons for an employee’s departure, most managers fail to take any responsibility. They may report “better compensation” as the reason for leaving, even when the person left for other reasons—like the absence of career development. This is also true when an employee is actively recruited by the competition. When managers misdiagnose the situation and fail to surface the most critical factors that contribute to attrition, their solutions fall short of the mark.

3. Misguided thinking: “Attrition is inevitable.” Some attrition is unavoidable, even desirable to compensate for hiring mistakes. However, HR and senior line managers often question whether they can increase their retention ratios. They can. In one organization, the attrition rate in one division, before our intervention, was 18.5 percent, with 25 percent attrition in one mission-critical group. After implementing proper retention strategies and making retention a priority for every manager, the attrition rate dropped to 11.7 percent overall, and 15 percent in the critical group, although there were reductions in employee compensation during this time.

4. The manager’s role in attrition is paramount but underplayed. Most managers lament the loss of talented contributors and point to various external factors as the causes of attrition, failing to take any personal responsibility. They rarely acknowledge any factors within their control. For example, managers often attribute attrition problems to compensation or to corporate policies that dilute employee autonomy. However, most factors contributing to attrition are within the manager’s circle of influence. For example, how frequently is the employee appreciated for their contributions? Do employees have a chance for input on how to improve results, and do they feel that their opinion counts? Are they making progress in their career aspirations? Do they respect and value other members on the team? As the managers’ span of control has widens, each contact must influence employee commitment to prevent defection.

5. Prevention is the best medicine. Since the loss of key employees can be devastating, ask yourself how highly you rank retention as a priority. Most managers only think about retention when they receive a resignation. The solution lies in thinking about retention as integral to sustainable success. Treating retention as a priority enables you to focus on proactive measures to nourish long-term employee commitment rather than on reactive attempts to reverse surprise resignations.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 David on 08.20.08 at 5:35 am

We find that our best strategy has been to implement an employee reward and recognition program – which we have allocated some considerable resources to. We use a company called RedBalloon Days and they are really terrific. You can check them out here:

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