One of the hottest topics amongst people and culture leaders that has been weaving its way into all of our conversations is that of retention and how to effectively retain top, diverse talent. In 2022, a lot of emphasis was placed on hiring and filling large quantities of open roles. With an impending economic downturn and hiring freezes making their way across the globe, we are now seeing attention shift towards retention. As organisations take stock of the significant investment they have made in attracting the best talent, they are now focusing on keeping them.
In this climate, organisations simply cannot afford not to prioritise retention. With the pace of turnover forecast to be 50–75% higher than previously experienced and the cost of attrition being up to 2-3 times the employee’s salary, organisations that get retention right will inevitably outperform those that don’t. Below, we share 3 ways to intentionally and effectively retain your top talent.
Build an inclusive workplace culture that people want to stay in
Consider not just what makes talent come to your organisation but also, what makes them stay. Those who say that they are “naturally inclusive” are missing the point – if we don’t intentionally include, then we unintentionally exclude.
The power has shifted to the employees and they will no longer tolerate a culture where they don’t feel included or supported by their manager. Yet, we expect that people leaders are naturally empathetic, caring and capable of responding appropriately to the myriad of challenges their direct reports may be facing, both within and outside of work. This is simply not the case. The reality is that people managers are often responsible for individuals with different and unique lived experiences and it’s unreasonable to expect that they will be naturally equipped to navigate all of the scenarios thrown at them.
Fortunately, there is a solution: equip them with the knowledge and tools to be an inclusive leader. Dedicated training can support individuals to identify and overcome biases and triggers that manifest in the workplace, provide best-practice tools to foster psychologically safe environments and guide them to take affirmative action towards building a truly inclusive culture.
At an organisational level, how are you ensuring that people are feeling included?
One of the most difficult components of creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace culture is incorporating equity, and many aren’t aware of the difference between equality and equity. Equality is when everyone is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity, however, recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. Equity when it comes to inclusion means a one size fits all approach will not be effective. It is instead about providing access to different policies and opportunities that suit the individual, including flexible and hybrid working arrangements and tailored progression plans.
Provide meaningful development and advancement opportunities
The number one reason talent leave their organisation is due to a lack of development opportunities and this is particularly pertinent for mid-career female talent. If you are seeking an increase in diversity amongst your Executive leadership team, how are you creating meaningful, tailored opportunities for top talent to advance in your organisation?
Do your high potential talent have clarity around their development plan?
For high-calibre talent that you see progressing in the organisation, it’s essential to ensure that they understand the progression opportunities available to them and and have clear expectations of how they can get there. Dedicated leadership development training can help in identifying and overcoming personal barriers to becoming a leader and equip them with the tools needed to succeed in the corporate environment.
Organisations that are nailing retention across the organisation are looking beyond their individual team and providing opportunities for talent to move laterally into different teams to embrace new opportunities. This increases the likelihood that employees that are keen to try something different, which we’re seeing more and more frequently with younger generations entering the workforce, with opportunities within the organisation, rather than seeking opportunities in different externally.
Go to the source
It’s baffling how often an organisation will make a decision for its people without consulting them. Decisions made around an executive table with no input from lower levels are a recipe for disaster. How are you intentionally inviting and actioning input from different levels of the organisation?
- Consider the representation and segmentation of the people you’re inviting input from.
Are all voices being heard? If utilising employee sentiment surveys, it’s crucial to analyse the results according to different diversity groups, rather than painting an inaccruate picture based on averaging data across the broader organisation.
- Listen to understand, with no agenda.
1:1 conversations or small internal focus groups can be really effective in uncovering the real, “on the ground” sentiment. Create the space for employees to share openly without seeking feedback that enforces or disproves a theory that you already have, this bias will inevitably shape the conversation and minimise the likelihood of gathering the most relevant feedback.
- How are you responding to and implementing feedback given?
How is it being fed back up to senior leadership and actioned? When seeking specific feedback on a new initiative or policy, make sure to invite input at a stage where they can influence the direction. There’s no use asking for contributions once something has already been locked in and isn’t going to be changed, this is more damaging than not seeking feedback in the first pace.
Building an inclusive workplace culture that effectively and equitably supports a diverse range of individuals is challenging and is an ongoing process and evolution. Yet the reward when organisations get it right is well worth the time, energy and financial investment. Those that are intentional and prioritise the retention of their top talent will gain a competitive advantage and emerge ahead of those that don’t.
Would you like to speak to one of our diversity, equity and inclusion experts on your talent retention strategy?
Written by Angelica Hunt, Senior Marketing Lead at The Dream Collective