talent management

Retain Employees and Reduce Turnover Through Effective Talent Management

Confidence in your team has a profound impact on how much you can accomplish in a working day. With competent staff, you can leave a set of instructions and feel confident that everything will be complete at the end of the day. Of course, the opposite is also true. If you’re continually chasing up your staff, you will struggle to get through your “to-do” list.

Unsurprisingly, HR Managers and business owners invest time and effort in retaining their best employees. In this guide, I’ll discuss how to reduce employee turnover through effective talent management. The tips that I’ll share are based on a mixture of my experience running a global team alongside HR best practices.

What Is Talent Management?

Talent management incorporates everything you do to attract, motivate, develop, and retain high-performing employees. Recruitment process outsourcing company Hudson Research and Consulting breaks down the talent management model into four steps:

  • Talent acquisition: This includes establishing a positive employer brand identity, recruiting the best people, and new hire onboarding.
  • Employee assessment: This phase involves analyzing an employee’s performance and working with them on improving their skills.
  • Employee development: This includes building a positive corporate culture, workforce planning, and increasing employee engagement. 
  • Talent deployment: This step involves working with an employee on their career plan, aligning their personal goals with the organization’s objectives, managing their performance, and providing suitable learning and development opportunities.

It is widely accepted that staff turnover is costly. A coherent talent management strategy will help increase employee retention. Improved employee retention can have positive knock-on effects that result from a more stable company structure.

Your talent management strategy needs to be adapted to the specific needs of your company and the employees. With that said, certain best practices can be applied to most companies. Read on to gain insights into implementing an effective talent management policy that covers the employee lifecycle.

Start with a Clear Job Description

Talent management starts by finding the best candidates for a role. The job description is often the employee’s first touchpoint with your business. When it is clear and precise, it sets the tone for the rest of their experience.

Your job descriptions must contain the following information at a minimum:

  • Job title
  • Location
  • Required skills and training
  • Description of duties 
  • Reporting structure
  • Salary range and benefit package

Providing all the necessary information in a job description will help you attract qualified candidates and guide your recruiters as they shortlist applicants for interview.

I like to set a test for all job applicants as soon as they submit a job application. A test helps reduce the number of applications to review. Approximately 15%-20% of candidates who apply for a position will complete a test in my experience. 

Below is an example of a test that I use for hiring a writer.

Setting a test at the start of the hiring process helps me create a shortlist of candidates based on their performance, rather than their professional experience. Once I have created a shortlist, I review the candidate’s CV and conduct interviews. I then use these three data points to inform my final choice on who to hire.

This hiring approach has resulted in me selecting candidates I might not have chosen if I had previewed a CV before setting a test or conducting an interview. If you’re open to experimentation, give this approach a try.

Highlight Opportunities for Promotion

Some employees are happy where they are and have no desire to progress. Most, however, would eventually like to climb the ladder to a more senior role. Your organization needs to provide opportunities for growth, self-improvement, and career development. If you promote from within and people in your firm know this, you’ll create loyal employees who will likely stay with your business for longer.

When discussing career opportunities with employees, consider creating a career map. A career map considers a person’s skills, career goals, income targets, and available opportunities.

Career maps should be realistic and helpful. For example, my brother works at a pension fund. Various career paths at the firm he works for are only available to applicants with specific qualifications. As a person who wants to advance his career, my brother needs to know what qualifications he needs to get on the next rung of the job ladder.

Having a career map will help your employees understand where they are, where they can go next, and what it would take to get there. Providing a framework for professional development your staff can refer to is an essential element of effective talent management.

Conduct Regular Performance Appraisals

At Launch Space, I do quarterly performance appraisals with staff alongside one on one monthly check-ins. In my experience, performance appraisals are rarely a negative experience. In most cases, a performance appraisal is my opportunity to recognize and reward employees for their hard work.

If you’re only doing annual appraisals, consider switching to more regular check-ins.

Many major corporations have shifted from yearly appraisals to a model of giving feedback more regularly. IBM is one such example. In the past, its employees set their goals once a year, and managers measured their performance against Key Performance Indicators. The “Checkpoint” performance management model IBM uses allows employees and managers to add, change, and communicate business and personal development targets throughout the year. This approach reflects a changed attitude towards talent management.

The shift to more frequent appraisals at IBM resulted in lower resignation rates and higher overall employee satisfaction. These are positive outcomes.

If you’re not doing so already, offer regular opportunities for your employees to set goals, reflect upon them, and gather feedback on their performance. Then, assess the impact of these changes on employee performance and retention. A flexible business development strategy where you test strategies to see what works and then assess their outcomes will improve talent management. 

Provide Coaching & Training

Regular appraisals are useless if you don’t track the right metrics and use them to improve their performance and productivity. For example, if a sales rep misses a quota, this presents an opportunity for training and coaching.

Remember that those with management responsibility need to be equipped to provide coaching and training effectively. Cigna provides videos on coaching techniques, and its managers form learning groups to share ideas with fellow managers. This system allows them to test their methods before deploying them in their teams.

Most large companies have learning and development departments dedicated to providing training courses and learning opportunities for employees. L&D departments often reward employees who contribute to their organizations’ bodies of knowledge by providing training courses to their teammates. For example, at Launch Space, we put everyone through an SEO course before starting work.

When used alongside a career map, regular coaching and training help employees acquire the skills they need to progress in their careers. The idea is to provide the support necessary to get the most from your colleagues.

Focus On the Team & Work Environment

Talent management methods should be focused on the needs of individual employees and their teams. For example, we have flexible working hours that accommodate our employee’s schedules and work cycles. I get a lot of positive feedback from staff about this initiative, but it also creates organizational issues.

Flexible work hours make it harder to collaborate between employees. For this reason, we have shared employee schedules to keep things coordinated. Moreover, we also arrange mini-meetings to share their current tasks and challenges so individuals can gain assistance and insights from their teammates. This system trains employees to give and receive constructive feedback. 

Creating a positive team atmosphere and working environment allows employees to develop their skills in a warm and co-operative atmosphere. Creating a sense of community is important, especially at the moment, with most of us working remotely.

Provide Competitive Compensation

Most people ultimately come to work for one reason: to earn a living. While workplace satisfaction goes beyond pay alone, compensation and benefits are critical to a robust talent management strategy. After all, why would a talented employee stay at your company if your compensation package is not competitive? They will end up moving to a competitor who can offer them a better deal. 

Many companies have replaced annual bonuses with monthly or quarterly incentives following performance reviews. Part of this is the instant feedback: by rewarding the desired outcome rapidly, people work harder.

Many businesses base bonuses on a combination of individual contributions and company performance. Utilizing a combination of factors when deciding upon a bonus structure encourages employees to take ownership of their work while rewarding everyone who has participated in the company’s growth.

Wrapping Up

Talent management has come a long way since it was first described by McKinsey & Co. in 1997. Despite the importance of talent management, only a small percentage of companies have considered programs in place. 

Defining a talent management strategy will help you keep your best employees and improve those whose performance leaves something to be desired. With the proper motivation, a clear roadmap, and growth opportunities, everybody wins.

Nico Prins

Nico is an online marketer and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop and implement their online business strategies. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to rapidly growing startups.