Comments are closed. In a time of economic uncertainty, companies are discovering the battle torecruit and retain key performers is well and truly on. Resources are beingdirected towards employees who have a proven track record of adding value tothe business, as Liz Simpson discoversStability, security and work that offers a high degree of meaning andpurpose are the factors driving recruitment and retention in North America inthe wake of the dotcom bust, the tragic events of 11 September and thewidespread economic recession. Labour shortages still exist across many industries and geographical areas,so it’s not totally a buyers’ market. Many organisations and small businessesare desperate to attract well-qualified and experienced individuals who can hitthe ground running – particularly in high tech, healthcare and the buildingtrades. Healthcare organisations around the US have been offering sign-on bonusesfor nearly every professional category from registered nurses to physicaltherapists, says Karen Hart, senior vice-president of the Healthcare Divisionof recruitment consultancy Bernard Hodes Group. However, she adds, salariesremain static. In other industries, companies are directing their resources towardsindividuals who have a proven record of adding demonstrable value to thebusiness. “Companies are attracting and retaining top talent by acting onthese individuals’ needs, concerns and issues,” says John Challenger, CEOof international outplacement firm Gray Challenger & Christmas, based in Chicago.”For example, this may involve making sure a child’s special educationneeds or health problems are well managed, or agreeing that a new recruit cantake a sabbatical after two years. Special employees are having benefitsprograms tailored uniquely for them. And companies need to be constantlyvigilant and proactive on this issue to ensure staff don’t becomecomplacent.” Incentives have shifted from the tangible to the intangible, according toBruce Skillings, executive vice-president in the Palo Alto, California officesof Bernard Hodes. “The biggest inducements are vision, values, culture and communicationstrategy,” adds Skillings. “Employees no longer want three jobs everyfour years. They are attracted to stable companies, particularly big brandnames, where the goals, direction and communication style of the organisationoffers the right ‘fit’ for them. Even people still attracted to start-ups wantto see a realistic business model, because today the biggest lure for toptalent is the opportunity to add value and produce real, tangibleresults.” The emphasis on security and a sense of meaning and purpose at work is borneout by the sudden appeal of public sector jobs. For example, the Public ServiceCommission in Canada, responsible for Federal Government recruitment, recentlyreported getting 22,300 applications for 890 jobs – whereas it received just16,000 applications during the whole of the previous year. Pam Walsh is Franklin Covey’s vice-president of talent development. She isbased in Salt Lake City, Utah and oversees the recruitment and retention ofsome 3,500 employees that help the company sell, promote and teach personal andorganisational effectiveness products and training around the world. “We are market competitive on salaries, but the reason people areattracted to working here is the opportunity to help change people’s lives withwhat we do. They stay because of the culture, which we maintain by onlyrecruiting people who contribute to our corporate qualities of camaraderie,warmth, integrity and a deep respect for what we are trying to achieve,”says Walsh. “Ensuring the right cultural fit and offering opportunitiesfor personal and professional growth helps us retain good people,” sheadds. Of course, it’s possible to lose your star performers not only to thecompetition, but also to the desire to strike out on their own asentrepreneurs. A recent study of the investment banking community, carried outby Harvard Business School associate professor Ashish Nanda and doctoralstudents, M Julia Prats and Boris Groysberg, focused on this. The reasons these high performing knowledge workers leave to becomeentrepreneurs offer important insights for anyone anxious to retain theintellectual capital of star employees. “We found turnover is highest whenthe company is under-performing compared with other firms in the industry, andalso if a person’s own department does not comprise of ‘A team’ members,”says Nanda. “One of the best retention strategies is to make sure teams comprisebright, intelligent, creative people who are given the level of autonomy thatsatisfies their entrepreneurial tendencies. “Winning the war for talent involves creating an environment that notonly offers high compensation and the opportunity to develop portable skills,but is organised in such a way that your stars feel they’re in thedecision-making loop on issues affecting their work.” M Julia Prats, whose particular focus is on the e-consulting industry, addsthat many founders of companies such as these left big consulting firms becausethey were frustrated by bureaucracy and their inability to implement new ideaswithin those established organisations. While their research study of investment banks ranged from 1988 to 1996, theauthors emphasise that it ended before the dotcom era and covers both boom andbust phases. “Undoubtedly, entrepreneurial turnover has declined dramatically due tothe state of the economy,” says Nanda. “However, it is short-sightedto be less careful about losing good people in bad times,” Nanda adds,”because when the economy picks up those that have left are definitely notgoing to come back.” Further informationwww.towersperrin.comwww.kpmg.comwww.deloittetouche.comwww.watsonwyatt.comwww.pwcglobal.comwww.wmmercer.com Previous Article Next Article War for talent hots upOn 1 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.