Fending Off Employee Dissatisfaction: How to Retain Top Talent in a Turbulent Job Market

A number of recent reports have indicated that nearly 50% of the U.S. work force is unhappy with their current job. Amid the prospect of a recovering labor market, if this news doesn’t seriously concern you as a business owner or manager, it should. With such a high level of employee dissatisfaction, it’s a safe bet that once the job market recovers, a great number of people will “jump ship” when the opportunity is right.

The Retention Factor
If it isn’t already, retaining talent within your organization should be a top priority. But, the stakes are even higher now. Why? So much of a company’s success, its value to customers and its potential for future growth reside within its people. Keeping your most talented team members on your side is important for a number of reasons:[wcm_restrict]

  • Retaining institutional memory – the how and why of your operations, history, client values and methodologies. Change rarely happens in a vacuum. As your company evolves, it’s incredibly valuable to understand the historical context for changes to maintain the foundation for future growth.
  • Retaining relationships – with customers and vendors, and other employees. Many companies have discovered the benefits of cross-departmental collaboration and maintaining these relationships can be vital for optimizing performance and knowing who to turn to in order to get things done.
  • Retaining knowledge base – the technical skills, operational expertise and experience of team members. When this is lost, so too is the opportunity to leverage this inherent knowledge across the organization.
  • Retaining investment – in your employees as valuable human capital, not just as “worker bees” with a job to do. If you’ve invested in education, skills building and professional development for anyone on your team, the ROI for your company is gone the minute they walk out the door.

Resources vs. Capital
The most important first step in retaining top talent is to change how you view employees within your organization. Think about this: in most companies, workers are considered resources (as in Human Resources). The term “resources” denotes a finite commodity – a material that is diminished or consumed through its use, much like coal, timber or oil. That’s certainly not the best message to be sending to your staff!

On the other hand, “capital” is something that is invested, nurtured and pays dividends in the form of a return on your investment. Most recent studies indicate that chief among the reasons given by employees for leaving their job is a perceived lack of concern for them as an individual – they simply don’t feel invested in or valued. By thinking of your employees as human capital, something in which you invest and that pays dividends, you can look beyond output and production to determine their real value to your organization, based not just on skills and accomplishments, but also the inherent contribution they make to the culture of the organization and motivation they bring to the job, their colleagues and the company.

Act Now Before it’s Too Late
Assessing the talent of individuals within your organization as a function of the potential value they bring to the table is a powerful paradigm shift that must happen before the exodus begins. Will there be some employees you may not be sorry to see go? Certainly. But, there may be valuable others who will leave feeling dissatisfied simply because they weren’t in the right position for their inherent skills and personality. How will you know the difference?

Evaluating, nurturing and cultivating talent is an absolute must for reducing the risk of losing your most valuable human capital once the job market rebounds. To do so requires the right set of tools that can expand human capital management beyond the traditional set of HR functions to integrate career path and succession planning, as well as training and skills, competency and motivational assessment. By overlooking any of these areas, one can only wonder how many of your most valuable and talented employees already have one foot out the door. And, you may not know what you’re missing until it’s already gone.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

Solange Charas joined TalentScope in 2008 as the Global VP of Pre-Sales for the group. Prior to her joining TalentScope, she held several top level HR positions including CHRO of Praetorian Financial Group, SVP, Head of Human Resources for Benfield Group, and Global Head of Human Resources for Havas Advertising. In these roles she was responsible for all aspects of HR for these three organizations. Ms. Charas’ prior professional consulting experience includes many senior-level positions with companies such as Arthur Andersen, Ernst & Young LLP, and Towers Perrin. Ms. Charas served as a chairperson of the Remuneration Committee 2005 to 2009 for NASDAQ-traded Able Energy. Ms. Charas has a Masters in Business Administration in Accounting and Finance from Cornell University, a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy from the University of California, Berkeley and a Certificate in Negotiations from Harvard University. In the fall, she will be pursuing her Doctor of Management.

1 reply
  1. Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol
    Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol says:

    I agree with Ms Charas: Retaining talent must be your top priority. But, one of the most important reasons was overlooked in this post. If you fail to hang onto the people you have, then you may not be able to replace them. You read that correctly. There’s a skills shortage now, and it will get a lot worse. In fact, the problem will not go away during your working life.

    The size of the US population, for example, may be growing; but this is due to the influx of legal and illegal aliens. The number of indigenous citizens is shrinking. Not only that, but Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age now at the rate of about one every 20 seconds.

    The time to begin retaining talent begins before the first application reaches your door. Find out how the application process works. Find out what happens if potential candidates call the HR office. You don’t want good applicants to decide not to apply because they had a bad experience with your organization.

    Bruce Hoag, PhD, CPsychol
    Work Psychologist


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