How to retain and develop talent

How to design an up-to-date offer

Winning talented people for your organisation is a good starting point. Still, the question remains how to retain and develop them without running the risk of moving on to a competitor. Is your offer up-to-date?

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

We recently saw another significant change in the job market. After a global pandemic did not turn the tables on the job market in favour of employers, the movement going by the hashtag #TheGreatResignation, showed a record number of people leaving the jobs. Many of them, without having a new job at hand and often even without knowing which step for them may be the next one in life. They only know one aspect for sure: they know their value, they know organisations run short of the workforce, and they know that there is no need to sell themselves undervalued.

This powerful position gets every employer into the situation, which poses one question to you, your leaders, your organisation: how can your organisation make an excellent offer to retain and develop talented people?

Time is money

A real-world scenario: an applicant sits together with HR and the leaders of the organisation. The applicant asks about the average working hours in the organisation. “45 hours and more is common here” was the organisation’s answer. The applicant ended the interview on the spot and refused to accept any offer from this organisation. Some details in which you may be interested: the applicant had a Master’s degree with distinction, lived and worked in multiple countries, is fluent in three languages and specialises in engineering regarding renewable energy. This person is a talent you would like to hire (by the way: he accepted an offer one day later out of the many offers he had).

Surprisingly, the organisation did not see at all that it could even be remotely their fault. After the interview ended abruptly, the internal discussions hovered around young people being lazy, practising entitlement thinking and that no one can have a career based on a 40-hours work week (or even less).

I, the author of this article, come from a different time as well. I am not a boomer; however, I am from Generation X. Working long hours for a career in my early days after university was the rule, not the exception. Still, it is neither appropriate nor backed by science to expect that our situation has to be the same for today’s generation. Please refrain from using statements like “You learn a lot here” or “We all have to work our way” up. The worst lines are the ones like “Pressure created diamonds” — sorry, that’s just inspirational-motivational, content-free, tear-off calendar nonsense. Stop using any of these remarks, or you will lose talented people as none of them is interested in people who put personal views over science and facts.

You expect a lot; you pay a lot. Not later, not sometime in the future, right now. If you are either unable or unwilling to do so, lower your expectations.

Also, most people from today’s generations who enter the working world are not interested in spending all their available time at work. Creating a modern job offer includes checking the status quo in your organisation and actively questioning which adaptions you have to make to meet the demands of a job market that works in the applicant’s favour.

Your organisation has to meet the applicants’ expectations. The menu for them offers a wide range of opportunities. For employers, there is less choice and more competition. Never assume that you are better than anyone else. Unfortunately, many recruiting processes are still slow, outdated, and have a questionable attitude towards talented people. Be sure to do better with regard to your organisational behaviour and communication.

The end of the family myth

For a long time, the phrase “our company is like a family” seemed very attractive. Today, people are more careful when they hear such terms. The myth of a family often comes with high expectations of commitment from the applicant’s side, while from the employer’s standpoint, a lot less attractive offer is usually made.

In addition, many benefits that an organisation offers are often more focused on the organisation than the talented person who may consider working for you. Having a canteen with extended opening hours or a gym sounds excellent. However, you create an environment that expects people to leave the office even less often than they already do. Do you make an offer, or do you want to create an environment that motivates people to stay long hours?

Do you have a modern and flexible approach to work to offer? If so, congratulations. You are a step ahead of your competition. Most companies promise to make such offers but fail to deliver on their promises afterwards. Countless cases made it to the public and quickly created negative press appearances. 50% of the people and more are still being denied flexible working solutions despite promises from organisations (Source).

People appreciate when you live by the values your organisation claims to have and expect that you deliver on the promises you made in the first place. When you wonder how modern your workplace approaches are, the time to check the status quo is now.

Learn Leadership

Leadership is a skill that you learn. There is no “born leader”, although some people like to claim that there is. Science, proof and evidence clearly show that a trial-and-error approach may harm your organisation significantly and also may lead to a loss of talented workforce.

Even the most talented people, you know this from sport, have to work hard and get the best staff to tell them how to achieve their maximum potential.

An internal workshop or seminar is one option. Still, are the people leading these workshops professionally qualified to transfer knowledge? If not, why are you still surprised about the limited success of these actions?

Professional leadership development needs professional (in most cases: external) people who help you on the way. Talented people quickly realise when the organisation is unwilling to invest properly but always chooses the cheap(er) option. This choice communicates a lack of value to your future talents. You should reconsider this behaviour and invest in professionals. Professional results demand professional investments.

The number one reason why people leave organisations remains the same for years: leadership behaviour. It pays off quickly to invest in the professional qualification of your people. Your reputation in the job market will promptly improve and attract more talent than ever before.

Even more aspects of a modern workplace you can find
in this week’s podcast: click here to listen and learn.

A modern approach to retaining and developing talents is important for you?
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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt


Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.