How To Attract and Retain Top Talent

how to attract and retain top talent
Table of Contents

“The Great Resignation” has unceremoniously moved to “The Great Talent Gap” today. 

As workers today rethink and reshuffle their priorities post-Covid-19 pandemic times, many have switched jobs and industries, changed their roles from traditional to non-traditional ones, or retired early and even started their own businesses.

Top talents for jobs grew scarce - and are at a premium. Compounded by the popular inclination of the modern workforce to undertake “time-outs” or embark on sabbaticals so as to tend to their personal lives, “The Great Talent Gap” is a real issue, and retains very much of its prevalent presence nowadays.

The competition for the best talents is on

It is obvious: the competition for talent is fierce today. Globally, there is a tight race to attract and retain top talent out there, however, this is hampered by the fact that the global landscape for talent competitiveness is still fraught with inequalities.

INSEAD’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023 report stated that between individual countries, there is a disparity in talent: poorer economies do not fare as well in the talent scene as other richer economies. The Covid-19 pandemic has also permanently and profoundly altered the global talent landscape - many organisations had to adapt dramatically to an abrupt change of environment, with work being one of the key elements.

Besides the drastic changes in environment, there had been financial strain in place as well; in order to prevent a collapse in employment and output, stop-gap and emergency measures were undertaken - causing significant levels of public debt to be accumulated in the process as well.1

Perhaps the most defining theme in the global talent landscape is the fact that employee experience has become the defining factor that could either tip into the favour of employers looking to hire top talents, or otherwise.

The odds seem to be stacked against employers: tight labour market conditions, low unemployment and missing employees are the current culprits that spurred such competition in attracting and retaining talents today. Workforce concerns are taking the limelight amidst a turbulent economic outlook, as this sentiment is reflected in the unemployment rates of the US that fell to historic lows of 3.4% according to Global Talent Trends Study by Mercer.

Contradictorily, despite employee experience being the one of the top factors to consider in working arrangements, only half of companies globally are focused on total wellbeing for their employees - with Italy, China and Hong Kong being several countries that lagged in total wellbeing plans.

Within the APAC region, the talent landscape does not differ as much, and is neither optimistic. In the 26th Annual Global CEO Survey by PwC, only 41% of surveyed CEOs opined that their employees’ behaviours are aligned with their corporate values and directions - suggesting that the employees feel disconnected from their work purpose.2

In a separate 2022 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey by PwC, only 45% of companies are upskilling their employees - a gap that needs to be addressed if a company is to develop a strategically competitive workforce. Echoing the sentiment that there is a gap to be filled by companies is the fact that only 36% of employees surveyed said that their employers support their physical and mental wellbeing.3

The changing times brought about an anxiety of new technological tools usage too. The same annual survey by PwC reported in 2023 that 22% of the respondents confided a lack of confidence in their ability to acquire new AI-related skills, while 16% of them believe that AI will eventually replace their roles, whereas another 16% feel that AI will not impact them in any way.

Despite the fact that so many challenges in talent management are looming, only one in two employees actively seek feedback to improve, or provide constructive feedback to their co-workers.4 This further emphasised the pressing need to address pivotal and relevant strategies to attract and retain the best talents for manpower.

Changing times, changing trends

With a new volatile economic landscape to navigate, trends in the talent management sector also shifted. For one, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has become an important factor - nearly three-fourths of companies that consider themselves as having world-class talent management programs are focused on gender and global diversity. Data from McKinsey supports this: diverse companies are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors.5

A second noteworthy trend to mention is that hybrid flexibility has now expanded to reach the front lines. In 2022, Gartner surveyed organisations and found that 58% of the organisations that employ frontline workers have invested in improving their employee experience in the previous year, while about a third of those who have not done so intended to do so within the same year. This marks a significant investment in remote work - and to have the similar benefit extended to the frontline employees says much about the permanence of remote work and the value that it brings to many organisations today.6

The third important trend that is jumping on the bandwagon nowadays is the migration from work-life imbalance to work-life integration. More employees are looking for companies that promote work-life integration - it is when they are able to put in hours during the day while taking care of personal responsibilities when needed. Highly skilled employees also view flexible working week arrangements - such as those in which 36 hours are spread across 4 days - as another viable and attractive working factor, making work-life integration an inevitable requirement when negotiating work arrangements.7

Implementing the right talent retention strategy

High performers at work are astoundingly 800% more productive.8

Talent’s importance is well summed up in this advice by the late Steve Jobs: “Go after the cream of the cream. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.” Not only that an organisation needs to attract star talents that fit their organisational goals and values, there is also a need to retain them so as to facilitate the organisation’s growth and future expansion.

Here are 3 main strategies on how to attract talent and retain top talent9 :

1. Put focus on the 5% of employees that deliver 95% of the value

In your organisation, there are certain employees that have a disproportionate impact on creating or protecting value - although it is not always obvious who they are, efforts should be focused on the few critical areas whereby the best people have the most impact. The place to start is by looking at roles instead of processes or specific people.

2. Ensure that your offer is magnetic, and deliver upon promise

Craft a compelling “employee value proposition” that rewards your employees with monetary rewards or work experience in exchange for their time, effort or ideas. Make sure that your employee value proposition is distinctive, targeted and realistic to reap the best benefits.

3. Embrace technology as the game changer

Utilise data and analytics to help leverage your recruitment and hiring processes, as well as to retain your top talents. Additionally, you can employ people analytics so as to bring rigour to these efforts altogether.

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  1. The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023 ↩︎
  2. 26th Annual Global CEO Survey - Asia Pacific ↩︎
  3. Asia Pacific Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022: Time for a rethink? ↩︎
  4. Asia Pacific Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2023: Is the workforce ready for reinvention? ↩︎
  5. 15 Top Talent Management Trends for 2023 ↩︎
  6. 9 Future of Work Trends For 2023 ↩︎
  7. The Future of Talent Acquisition ↩︎
  8. Attracting and retaining the right talent ↩︎
  9. What is talent management? ↩︎

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