Holding onto talent is becoming harder

As the job market expands, identifying and keeping your best employees will become harder as the year progresses
By Dr Ahmad Badr
Sun 29 Apr 2018 08:34 AM

There has been a lot of talk about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” this year, not least at the World Economic Forum in Davos. There has also been a fair amount of discussion about positive signs of global economic growth; surveys suggest that business leaders are more upbeat about prospects this year than they have been for quite some time, and positive growth and jobs figures have been reported in many places.

In the region, Expo Dubai feels tangibly close and long-planned mega-projects and tourist attractions have already come to fruition – with a good deal more seemingly on the horizon.

A recent Bloomberg forecast put the mean estimate of the UAE’s 2018 economic growth at three percent, while the IMF said the non-oil sector was set to grow 1.9 percent through this year.

It’s all great news, of course. And not least for professionals who are thinking about making their next career move – whether between companies in the UAE or seeking new opportunities somewhere else. In fact, with companies and recruiters busier than they have been in a while, it is increasingly looking like a great time to plan the next step up the career ladder. As a result, it feels like every second person is polishing their LinkedIn profile, updating and upgrading their CVs and dusting down their interview outfit. You know, “just in case”.

But what should businesses be doing about this, if they hope to keep hold of the talented employees who will be most in demand? Short of chaining them to their desks, it might feel as if the battle to retain your best talent comes down to whether you can afford to beat the offers they will receive.

Always think beyond the bottom line

Phrasing this challenge in terms of cash alone is likely to be a mistake. While it’s certainly going to be a part of an employee’s consideration when pondering a move, it won’t be the only factor. They may be moving to take on more responsibility. They may want more kudos from a bigger employer name, or a great job remit. They might want to take their job in a different direction completely, or simply be keener on a different employer’s work culture.

It may even be something as simple as seeking out employment closer to their home or, an increasing issue in today’s working environment, finding a company more committed to a work-life balance.

In articulating the many motivations for an employee’s move, it should quickly become clear how an employer would try to counter them. The appeals of a move are distinct and separate, and the counter to them should be also.

If you have a work culture that is limited in its appeal, your human resources department should be investigating how this can be rectified. If your rivals offer more career development opportunities, you should consider how you can do the same. If your employee wants a position that allows them more time with their family, you could consider remote working and flexible hours.

Understand your own appeal as an employer

At the same time, you should also seek to recognise what it is about your company that has retained their services for so long already. If they appreciate the opportunities you give them, make certain that you continue to be clear on how they can develop with you. If they enjoy the work environment, find out what exactly makes that so, and do it even better.

Also, don’t underestimate the simple effectiveness of praising performance. Can you honestly say that your best employees know they are highly-rated by senior people in the company? If you can’t, you need to make sure that changes. People respond impressively to being told how much they are appreciated, and they are likely to show greater loyalty when they know their present employer understands the contribution they make.

Loyalty, of course, can be a fickle or short-term thing. But an organisation that fights for its talents with more than just its chequebook is likely to see far more than one that only understands the talent it had when it is leaving through the exit door.

Dr Ahmad Badr, CEO, Knowledge Group

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Last Updated: Sun 29 Apr 2018 09:10 AM GST

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