The role of employee engagement in retaining talented employees

17 March, 2019
Retaining talented employees

Three steps to improve organisational performance by retaining your best employees

Retaining talented employees is a key to business success. They have the ability, knowledge, and drive to help your organisation progress to its goals. Often, though, we find that retaining talented employees is something that many businesses don’t do well.

In this article, we examine why it is that retaining talented employees is so difficult and why employee engagement should be the foundation of your staff retention strategy.


Why do you recruit the best talent?

Before looking at the difficulties of retaining talented employees, it is worth giving a moment or two to considering why you want to hire the best people in the first place. Here are a few of the reasons that our clients tell us are most important:

  • The most talented employees are better at what they do, and actively seek ways to do things better, faster, and more cost effectively. This leads to higher productivity and, ultimately, an improvement in margins.
  • Training costs are lower, as the most talented employees are either already trained or take less time to train. They tend to be highly motivated self-learners, too, keen to progress.
  • The best talent tends to be more creative and think differently. This provides a valuable source of new and fresh ideas. They kickstart conversations that lead to improvements in processes and procedures, and become involved in the creation of new services and products that keep companies moving forward.

The most talented employees can also become role models for your company, improve your reputation, and help to foster a good team spirit essential to maintaining a happy and motivated workforce.


Why do businesses fail at retaining talented employees?

The reasons you hire talented employees are the reasons you want to retain them. They are the gift that keeps on giving. So why do so many talented people move on?

In its work with companies across many industries, Gallup found that the most talented employees who were not engaged with their work or their employer were among those with the highest turnover in their organisation. They are as likely to leave your company as the employees who are unhappy and poor performers.

Indeed, Gallup research shows that the main reasons why talented employees quit their jobs are engagement oriented:

  1. Career advancement or promotional opportunities: 32%
  2. Pay/benefits: 22%
  3. Lack of fit to job: 20.2%
  4. Management or the general work environment: 17%
  5. Flexibility/scheduling: 8%
  6. Job security: 2%

Talented employees are most likely to be those who want opportunities to grow and develop. They are most likely to have high expectations of their employer, manager, and workplace.

Talented employees are also most likely to be the ones with the opportunities to do what they do best and achieve what they desire elsewhere.


“My talented employees are high performers – of course they are engaged”

In our previous article, we discussed the signs of actively disengaged employees. The first sign that we noted was poor productivity. However, talented employees tend to have a high work ethic. They could be high performers even if they aren’t engaged. By making the mistake of reading good performance as being engaged, you may benefit from their high performance for a short time only.

Real high performance is that which benefits an organisation over the long term. Retaining talented employees is therefore essential to your organisation’s performance. Wrapping this up into a formula for high performance, you find that:

Hiring talent x engaging talent x tenure = high performance

In further research, Gallup found that the longer an employee stays with an organisation, the less likely they are to be engaged. They found that:

  • 37% of employees with less than one year with a company are engaged and motivated
  • Of those employees who have remained with the same company for 10 years or longer, only 27% are engaged
  • The percentage of actively disengaged employees rises from 18% to 21% over this time

On the face of it, this may seem like a contradiction in terms: after all, why would they stay if they are unhappy? The answer is that the least capable employees are least likely to find opportunities elsewhere. If they aren’t engaged, a talented employee is more likely to leave for a new opportunity.


An employee engagement strategy is the key to retaining talented employees

The first step to high performance as an organisation is to hire the best talent. These will be people who are a good fit with the role and the organisation, and who bring with them energy, enthusiasm, and ability.

Next, engaging them is essential. Unlike hiring the best people, retaining talented employees is not a one-off event. An engagement strategy aimed at retaining talented employees works continuously. Managers and leaders are central to this – their real role is to hire and engage the best people.

It is engagement that that leads directly to tenure, and the longer that a talented employee stays with your organisation the more you get from them. Gallup have measured this and found that employees who are tellented, are engaged, and are retained longer perform 18% higher than the average employee. What could that level of higher performance do for your organisation’s productivity and bottom line?

In our next article, we examine factors that will help you hire the best talent more often.

In the meantime, to discover how our Learning Map could help you to refine and improve your continuous employee engagement strategy to retain your most talented employees, get in touch with The Big Picture People today.

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