Retaining Talent: The Whys And Hows In New Age Of Work

Giving employees what they are worth, thus, involves a holistic approach that attends to multiple needs and leaves no stone unturned in valuing the best that human resources have to offer


Photo Credit : India Picture Budget,

Talent is a massively significant word in the professional world. It simultaneously means skill, specialization, a knack for accomplishing desirable ends and willingness to adapt, learn and change, among other significant things. Needless to say, employees with distinctive talent can determine the face of an organization, as well as the achievements of an industry. Yet, talent retention has been a problem in recent years, as individuals have felt the need to shift from one place to the other and sometimes, alter their careers altogether with the lack of an environment conducive to their skills and suitable for their worth. Why and how should talent be retained? In today’s knowledge economy where specialization has increased by leaps and bounds, can talent be replaced easily? How do we go about valuing talent in this age where the nature of work itself has become less fixed than ever?

First of all, talent is not simply about training, as individuals synthesize the same kind of training to achieve vastly different results. What an individual employee delivers is not simply the function of his/her/their education but also their proactivity, dedication and intelligence. Therefore, talent is not easily replaceable and repeatedly replacing it can have disadvantageous effects in the long run. Secondly, talent is not as readily available as it might seem, as compared to the demand, as several demographic indicators show. Other than these factors, there are obvious financial, logistical and productivity-related concerns with regards to the turnover of employees.

As per a report by SHRM, employees turnovers are costly, affect a business’s performance, which may become increasingly difficult to manage. As per the report, direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50%-60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary. High turnover rates are also linked to shortfalls in organizational performance, as the report quoted the example of a nationwide study of nurses at 333 hospitals which showed that turnover among registered nurses accounted for 68% of the variability in per-bed operating costs. Also, shortage of talent is likely to make finding and keeping the right people with the right skills increasingly challenging for organizations.

Talent retention, thus, is not just a need for keeping core features of an organization relevant and giving talent its due but also a necessity in the most material and immediate sense. Therefore, to ensure talent retention, we need to take a holistic view and look at why employees leave and why they stay. As numerous studies have shown, employees leave due to obvious factors such as inadequate compensation, unhelpful professional relationships and lack of cohesion at work, there are other factors to consider as well. As Roger L. Martin notes in the March-April 2022 issue of Harvard Business Review, 

“I can say with confidence that in my 40 years of working with people who truly are in the upper echelon of talent, I haven’t met a single one who is solely or even highly motivated by compensation. And that brings me to something managers need to know: Feeling special is more important to talent than compensation is. Feeling special is more important to talent than compensation is. […] Top talent enables outcomes that otherwise wouldn’t be possible—special, tail-of-the-distribution-curve outcomes. If you rely on these people for outstanding organizational performance, you must treat them as valued, unique individuals. Never dismiss their ideas, never allow their progress to be blocked, and never miss the chance to shower them with praise when they succeed.”

The crucial question of why employees choose to stay thus cannot be answered merely in monetary and surface-level professional terms. There has to be a larger reason for employees to stay, such as job satisfaction which comes from clarity of roles, the feeling of belonging to a community that acknowledges good work and advantages that make the workplace welcoming, ranging from infrastructure to ample promotional opportunities. The aforementioned SHRM report to this effect, notes that employees who feel “embedded” in the organization owing to their links and connections, their compatibility with the job and a high sacrifice or a high opportunity cost for leaving the job are likely to stay. Therefore, apart from suitable compensation, work must offer a worthy network of connections and advantages that make the talent feel that they are valued and being given their rightful rewards and benefits. 

On the whole, talent retention means making the job as rewarding and engaging as possible. For highly skilled talent, the right compensation coupled with an uplifting work environment can provide individual rewards and workplace communities which can prove central in avoiding resignations and talent crunches. Giving employees what they are worth, thus, involves a holistic approach that attends to multiple needs and leaves no stone unturned in valuing the best that human resources have to offer.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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