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Attracting and Retaining Talent: Top Reasons why talent join and leave your organisation

Attracting and Retaining Talent

Written by Amela Bajric
Mar 08, 2019
Submitted by Amela Bajric on Fri, 03/08/2019 - 03:17

We all know how important hiring the right talent is to your business but for the first time in a number of years Talent has became the number 1 leadership challenge. How to attract, retain and develop the best talent is also the challenge that most organisations feel least equipped to deal with.

‘Time is money’ they say. Hiring the right talent takes a lot of your time. Time you could use to tick off all the things that are piling up on your to do list. Attracting the wrong talent, however, takes even more of your time.

In today's world, there are a number of key areas that organisations are investing in in order to drive their growth - technology, analytics, strategy, innovation, transformation, change management and customer project delivery.  With everyone competing for the same talent in these critical areas, this poses an important question - how will you stand out from your competitors?

Let’s look into how you can attract the right talent from the start, so you don’t need to hire for the same position in a few months’ time again. We have invested in building extensive talent pools in our specialised disciplines so we can connect you with the right people for your business. 

Before we start, here’s a quick overview of why we know what works and what doesn’t when attracting and keeping talent.

Why we know what we know - About our Research

As a specialist recruitment business we are in the unique position that we are speaking to candidates in each of our niche areas every day building up a clear picture of what is most important to candidates in a particular role type and also speaking to the corresponding clients and the challenges that they face attracting key people. This gives us this inside run on what it will take to stand out from the crowd and inspired the leadership research we undertook last year in partnership with Thrive Advisory.  We’ve created the “Leadership Insights Series”  - a research collaboration that provides insights into the common challenges organisations are facing when attracting and retaining talent.

While some quantitative questions were posed, we primarily employed open-ended questions to gather rich qualitative data that resulted in more diversity of thought and themes, versus a predetermined set of options to respond to.

The survey data interviewed 715 senior leaders:

  • CEOs and other C-suite leaders
  • Board Chairs and Directors
  • Business leaders
  • People leaders
  • HR and Talent experts
  • Executive coaches
  • Senior individual contributors

Our tips on attracting and retaining talent are thus backed up by data which you can now use to make better hiring decisions.


Reasons Talent Join Organisations

If you wish to hire the right talent, you should know why some of the best people choose to work for organisations in the first place. What is it that they are looking for and how can you use that to attract them to work in your organisation?

When given 3 “votes” to indicate the core reasons why they joined and left organisations, a set of very interesting patterns and paradoxes emerged.

attracting talent


Reward and recognition

Conversely, financial considerations were deemed as highly relevant when joining an organisation, with 31% of respondents noting reward and recognition as key factors to join an organisation, while only 3% cited they leave organisations for this reason. With 31% leaving organisations for this reason, you should be well-informed in regards to how much you should be paying your people. Apart from salary, you should also take into account factors such as working hours and company budget.

While remuneration may not be the most important factor in attracting talent, organisations should still be aware of current market trends and salaries.

Senior Leadership

While talent focus on leadership during a “due diligence” phase, they appear to focus on a different level of leadership, perhaps indicating a different focus on leadership versus management.

The primary factor when joining an organisation, indicated by nearly half of our sample (46%) was the senior leadership of the organisation. Fortunately, there is a lot of information on how leaders can attract and retain top talent.

The importance of leadership (46%) is followed by being able to grow and develop one’s career (42%) and “Teamwork and collaboration” (40%).


Reasons Talent Leave Organisations

reasons talent leave organisations

A mere 3% of participants selected corporate culture as a primary consideration when joining an organisation, however, corporate culture was the number one reason why the same leaders leave organisations.

A staggering 67% of participants cited lack of alignment in corporate culture (42%) and/or values misalignment (25%) as core reasons why they have elected to leave organisations.  

Critical Manager Relationships

When deciding to leave an organisation, it is the relationship with their immediate manager, including breakdowns in that relationship that is considered most relevant. This managerial relationship was jointly tied for the top reason to leave an organisation, listed by 42% of our sample.  

Lack of utilising skills

Lack of opportunity to utilise skills was selected by 32%, while 28% noted they left because they were bored and seeking new challenges and a further 28% noted that the lack of meaningful work drove them to leave. This is a staggering number and means that almost a third of our workforce is feeling underutilised. When you think about the current climate of driving efficiency and achieving more with less it would seem that  this is an imperative that we do better on this front. One of the small things we have done to help address this point at Morgan McKinley is just asking 2 additional question as part of our quarterly review process. Do you feel all of your skills are being utilised in your current role? Are there any additional skills you would like to utilise and where can you see these being deployed across the business?  

This finding replicates Professor Adam Grant’s recent research on why people leave roles, including a case study of Facebook (Goler, Gale, Harrington, & Grant, 2018).  



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