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What companies should be doing to retain talent in 2019

Hint: It’s no longer about setting people on a linear track, but rather about helping them understand their strengths, and how they can use them to develop their own career path.

What companies should be doing to retain talent in 2019
[Photo: sirtravelalot/Shutterstock]

As a startup in the HR tech space, we’re constantly keeping an eye out for changes to HR practices and the impact they have on the workplace. Currently, we’re seeing that the way companies measure performance has evolved again.

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In a recent survey, Aberdeen found that 83% of companies suffer from low engagement. While that’s not new, the surprise is that leaders’ biggest hurdle is a lack of ability to define engagement in a meaningful way. As they struggle to do so, they are incurring losses in productivity, innovation potential, and tenure among their people.

This raises the question: Is engagement the right metric to focus on?

The survey also found that best-in-class companies achieve stronger business results by creating work environments that focus on increasing individuals’ potential to contribute, rather than on company-wide engagement. In other words, they are moving beyond engagement to people enablement.

This is further aligned with the fourth trend in Deloitte’s most recent human capital trends report: “Shifting toward a model that empowers individuals to acquire valuable experiences, explore new roles, and continually reinvent themselves.” Yet 59% of Deloitte’s human capital survey respondents rate their organizations as not effective or only somewhat effective at empowering people to manage their own careers. As a result, lack of a proper employee development plan becomes the leading cause of losing young talent.

All of this supports the acceleration of professional growth in a holistic way. It’s no longer about setting people on a linear track, but rather about helping them understand their strengths, and how they can use them to develop their own career path.

Here are our top six recommendations on how companies can retain talent in 2019 and beyond, by focusing on people enablement.

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Adapt your managerial mind-set

Over the years, we have seen servant leadership gain traction as a model. Rather than just seeing people as employees at work, it’s important to start understanding the people behind their job titles. We should try to develop stronger skills in empathy and listening, which in turn will enable us to create fulfilling roles and careers. A great way to do that is by reading coaching materials or even taking a foundational coaching course. This will give us the ability to develop processes people want and will engage with, from onboarding to performance reviews and more.

Create purpose

With a growing millennial generation, work has to be more meaningful and purpose-driven. Companies can support this by having a strong and clear vision and mission that is well communicated and steers the direction of the business. Additionally, a strong set of values that are lived and breathed by everyone reinforces the positive behavior the company expects. The stronger and clearer these are, the more people will be engaged and have a sense of purpose in their day-to-day tasks.

Create more effective leaders

One of the biggest difficulties companies face is ineffective managers: People who have not been properly prepared for their roles as leaders and are therefore not driving results. Companies need to develop processes that support first-time managers as they step into a role of responsibility, helping them become better leaders and coaches. As they strengthen both business and soft skills, their teams should flourish, increasing their sense of ownership, delivering higher quality work, and driving business.

Increase alignment and clarity

In addition to leadership skills, companies should help managers drive clarity and alignment. One of the biggest reasons for disengagement is when people don’t know what they’re doing or why. Managers can change this through regular check-ins with their direct reports, clear communication, and goal setting, among other strategies.

Encourage recognition

There’s no doubt recognition plays an extremely important role, and yet it’s often not done right. According to Socialcast, 69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognized. It doesn’t have to be about large sums of money or lavish gifts; the most important things are to provide recognition in a timely manner and to make it personal.

Develop and maintain a feedback culture

The natural follow-up to recognition is developing a culture of feedback. People should know how they’re doing on a regular basis. According to Gallup, 98% of employees will fail to be engaged when managers give little to no feedback. People should also feel empowered to share feedback with each other on a regular basis. By getting people accustomed to sharing feedback with one another, you’re empowering them to take ownership of their development.

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All of these tactics support the acceleration of sustainable professional growth. People enablement is about companies empowering their workers to take ownership of their day-to-day progress and long-term career aspirations. The more companies are able to do that, the more agile their processes will become, and the more prepared they will be for the future of work.

Bas Kohnke is the Founder & CEO of Impraise, the People Enablement Platform.

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