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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

We all know how important hiring the right talent is to your business - employing talented professionals is consistently a prominent 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 up 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 can 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 does and what doesn’t work 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 of being able to speak to candidates and various employers in each of our niche areas every day. This allows us to build up a clear picture of what is most important to candidates in a particular role type and what sort of challenges hiring organisations face when attempting to attract talented people.

All of this combined gives us this inside run on what it will take to stand out from the crowd and inspired the leadership research we undertook in partnership with Thrive Advisory. This research collaboration provides insights into the common challenges organisations are facing when attracting and retaining talent.

While some quantitative questions were posed, we primarily asked open-ended questions to gather rich qualitative data that resulted in more diversity of thought and themes.

The survey data consists of responses from 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 use to make better hiring decisions.

Why Do Talented Individuals 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.

Reasons Talent Leave Organisations

Reward and Recognition

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% joining organisations for this reason, you should be well-informed in regards to how much you should be paying your people. Apart from remuneration, you should also take into account factors such as working hours, benefits and company budget.

While remuneration may not be the single most important factor in attracting talent, organisations should still be aware of current market trends and salaries, ensuring what you offer is in line with industry standards.

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%). This clearly proves that although an individual's career is their own personal journey, the various people surrounding them in the workplace are an enormous contributing factor to success along the way.

Main Reasons Talented Professionals Leave Organisations

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

A staggering 67% of participants claimed that they would leave an employer if their personal views do not match the company values - lack of alignment in corporate culture (42%) and/or values misalignment (25%).

Reasons Talent 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.

This underlines the importance of consistent employee engagement between management and their team members.

Not Making Use of Skills

Lack of opportunity to utilise skills was selected by 32% when describing why they leave an organisation, while 28% noted they left because they were bored and seeking new challenges. 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 make sense that employers place more of a focus on ensuring they are getting the best out of their talented employees - this will be beneficial both ways as the individual will feel more valued and engaged, whilst the employer itself will reap the rewards of greater skills.

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? By simply asking the question and offering employees the opportunity to 'upskill', we reckon your retention rates will see an increase - people want to feel valued and want their employer to be invested in their professional development!  

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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