The true cost of talented employees who up and leave your organisation

Hold tight! Your most talented people could be about to walk out the door. Yet, if you sigh at the words ‘recruitment’, ‘training’, and ‘retention’ you’re not alone. People make or break a business – especially when they up and leave.

What impact does that have on your organisation? No, we’re not simply talking about having to pay hefty recruitment fees. The CIPD defines talent as ‘those individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance either through their immediate contribution or, in the longer-term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential’. When ‘talent’ departs the business, the expense of replacing them isn’t the only hole they leave. All of that knowledge, rapport with clients and suppliers, that ease, confidence and efficiency go with them.

An exodus of talent costs your organisation dear. So how can you ensure that key people and promising talent stay with you for the long term?

Attract and retain talent: it’s not about the money – it’s about development

Salaries, bonuses and freebies will only do so much to attract and retain talent. What truly motivates people is what Daniel Pink terms ‘mastery’, the continual opportunity to improve. Pink also highlights the importance of ‘autonomy’ and ‘purpose’; along with ‘mastery’, when these three ideals are in place, they form a holy trinity of motivation. And while it may never be possible to truly ‘master’ a job, the pursuit of excellence is, in itself, motivating.

Employers must provide their people with ample opportunity to learn and develop their talents. Personal development programmes signal to talent that they are appreciated and worth investing in. More importantly, personalised development programmes allow the individual to develop the most interesting and compelling skillset – their own.

Tailored, memorable and long term: how to make a development programme effective

There are three golden rules for ensuring that development programmes add value:

  1. Make programmes tailored and flexible: Any programme must be tailored to fit the individuals so that it reflects their personal needs and talents. So, what if there are dozens of participants in a development initiative? Tailoring activities and feedback to each individual means that each person gains something unique to them. Instead of being told generically what is good or what is bad, they discover their own strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Make programmes memorable and engaging: Sitting in front of a PowerPoint may work for some people – if you find them, let us know. For learning to be embedded, it has to be put into practice; theory alone doesn’t make for confident, empowered individuals. Moreover, dictating from the front of a classroom what everyone has to learn eats away at the element of personalisation. Digesting a uniform pill means that talent adopts the prescribed method to deliver what is expected of them. Individual plans allow people to explore different ways to deliver what is expected of them and to find a path that works for them. This also plays up the ‘autonomy’ factor, as each participant is responsible for their own learning.
  3. Make development programmes long term: Standalone courses are ideal for imparting snippets of information. Yet development is about taking action and reflecting over the long term. By facilitating individual feedback and follow-up sessions, employers create the space for talent to embed learning and new behaviour. Time to reflect means that talent can decide what is working and how to take that further, rather than repeating the same actions and going nowhere. What’s more, long-term initiatives create the time and space for people to reflect on not only the organisation’s overarching ‘purpose’ but how, as an individual, they fit into it.

Commit to development, secure your talent’s future

Walk the walk. If all that employers do is talk, they will quickly find it’s their talent who walk. Development for development’s sake isn’t development, it’s a box-ticking exercise. Your most capable people will quickly pick up on this and become disenfranchised with jumping through the hoops that are designed to keep them for the long haul. If you commit to helping your talent develop themselves, to walking with them on the journey to ‘mastery’, you’ll see a much more fruitful outcome – an outcome that makes commercial sense now and in the long term.

Not sure where to begin? If you’ve tried development initiatives in the past and wondered why it had little impact, get in touch. Farscape has worked with organisations across the country to develop the most promising talent. We’re on 0117 370 1800 and would welcome the opportunity of a conversation.


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