Retaining talent: five things that matter the most

Retaining talent: five things that matter the most

Keeping talented people engaged with and committed to their organisation is an important priority for most of the leaders I work with. Unquestionably, retaining talented people matters to achieving any organisations vision and strategic objectives.

Most leaders I work with also appreciate that it’s hard enough finding good people, without losing them prematurely. Undesirable turnover has many consequences for businesses including lost productivity and money.

Consider for a moment the real cost of hiring a new team member and providing them with the training they need. Even if you are able to minimise recruitment and training fees, the investment of time and energy can be immense.

Most often people choose to leave an organisation when something they want or value isn’t provided. People are unique, and to influence their commitment takes understanding what is important to each of them. Among the most common reasons people give for leaving an organisations are:

  • To pursue career advancement or professional development opportunities
  • Lack of trust or respect for their manager and / or senior leadership team
  • Unhappy, unwelcoming or disharmonious work environment.

Five things that matter the most to tackling these challenges and retaining talented people are summarised below.

1. Nurture your teams spirit

As I share in my latest book The People Manager’s Toolkit, the most important thing any leader can do to improve engagement and therefore retention is focus on the spirit of their team. Our spirit is the positive energy we have in reserve and draw on to get our job done. Every moment we experience at work energises or drains our spirit. When we are energised by our work, relationships and environment we are entirely more likely to choose to stay and contribute to our full potential. People are also more likely to behave in ways that that have a positive impact on the culture and spirit of the whole team when their spirit is strong.

2. Recruit the right people and get it right from the start

Look for people who are not only capable of doing the job but motivated to take it on. How much someone wants to do a job and how long they are likely to want to do it are crucial to your ability to retain them for a desirable period of time.

3. Give people the best possible start

How people are inducted will impact their perceptions of your organisation, how well they adjust to the demands of their new role and whether or not they feel a part of your team. These are all important factors in determining whether or not they are likely to stay within the first 12 months to two years of employment.

4. Create a positive work environment

Creating and maintaining positive team environments that operate on the basis of trust, respect and collaboration is crucial to retaining talented people. Develop the people management skills you need and expect every leader who works for you to measure and reward desirable behaviour. Lead by example and value what people achieve as well as how they go about it. Making behaviour matter through the decisions you make and actions you take, is key to your ability to create the type of environment that will inspire talented people to stay.

5. Provide rewarding careers

A planned approach to managing career development and progression can help you avoid staff needing to go elsewhere for their next career step. Make sure you:

  • Understand each team member’s career aspirations
  • Support and encourage ongoing professional development that leads to achievement of short- and long-term career goals
  • Look internally before hiring from the outside. Give your team members the opportunity to grow into more senior roles over time.

Karen Gately is a highly regarded thought leaders in the fields of human performance and leadership. A founder of Ryan Gately, a specialist HR consultancy practice, Karen is the author of two books – the People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people, and The Corporate Dojo: driving extraordinary results through spirited people. For more information visit contact

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