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How to Retain Top Employees with Talent Lifecycle Management

In the wake of the pandemic, and the Great Resignation it spurred, more than half of employees are considering leaving their current role within the next 12 months. If you’re wondering how to keep your best talent from walking, you’re not the only one — which is why this might be a great time to think about employee retention with Talent Lifecycle Management.

While many people are currently looking to change jobs, the Talent Index also revealed that 54% of people who left a company, due to feeling unhappy or unfulfilled, have later regretted doing so.

Our study with Aptitude Research found that 78% of companies have lost talent due to a lack of career development opportunities.

Combining these findings prompts a question: within the next year, are you ready to offer your employees an alternative role or are you willing to risk them walking away? In other words, does your top talent have a future with your company?

So there’s a need, now more than ever, for a greater focus on retention programs and the immediate actions you can take to keep employees from churning. You need to give people ways to grow internally: mentorship programs, better communication around internal mobility opportunities and internal hiring, and learning and development programs to help employees upskill or reskill into new roles within the company.

Retention with Talent Lifecycle Management: It’s all about visibility

Retention is a problem of visibility. Most talent teams don’t have full visibility of the skills within their business or a way to identify employees ripe for development, and top talent simply isn’t aware of all the options available to them internally. Without this information, they can’t plan their career, find their next role, or understand what skills will help them progress, and know who could mentor them inside the organization. If they can’t see a clear path to where they want to go in your business, they’ll find it elsewhere.

You want to be able to spot which employees are at risk of leaving – those who are keen to learn something new and grow into a new role. But to do so, you need a way to understand what skills those employees currently have and what they want to do next. Employees rarely have a way to share with the business what skills and interests they have. And if they do, it’s usually siloed — sitting with their line managers or in disparate learning and development tools. Without this knowledge, you can’t effectively help your top employees grow.

This is exactly how the construction company Balfour Beatty set about improving their retention strategy. They invited employees who were identified as being at risk of leaving to an internal careers community, capturing key data about their existing skills and how they wanted to develop in the process. The talent team could then suggest relevant jobs and build tailored learning routes to help redeploy them in the business – improving the company’s internal mobility and operational agility.

It allowed them to deploy their learning and development resources more effectively, but also defined a pool of talent that was ready to pursue a new challenge. They could help their best employees get where they wanted to go, develop their marketplace of skills, and fill critical roles, all at the same time.

Retaining top employees... even after they’ve left

By capturing this employee data early on, Balfour Beatty was also able to take a proactive approach to those employees who ultimately chose to leave. Using the data they’d collected, the company identified high-value leavers and invited them to an alumni community. The talent team then shared relevant events, content, and industry news with the alumni to keep them engaged, followed by a six-month career check-in, where they were asked if they wanted to come back.

That’s why it’s so important to have an alumni program. It might be that an employee wants to learn something or try a new role that doesn’t match your company’s current goals, but in future, they might want to return, or your goals may have changed. If you have a way to keep in touch with top talent after they’ve left, it keeps the door open if they want to come back.

So you need to approach retention proactively and holistically. You need to manage talent through its entire lifecycle: from the moment you first interact with them as a candidate, through their hiring and onboarding, internal development and career, all the way to them becoming an alumnus.

Strategic retention

But retention shouldn’t be pursued just for the sake of it. Once you can identify the employees at risk of leaving, and you’ve got visibility of the skills they want to develop, you need to assess if your company’s plans and timelines align with those ambitions. There’s no point developing skills you don’t actually need as a business, or overdeveloping in one area, and it may be that an employee wants to pursue a path that doesn’t make sense within your company.

Think about what projects your business has on the horizon and what products you’re looking to launch, and then break that down into the skills you need to get there and when you need them. For example, how many people in your organization want to learn data science, and how many data science roles do you need to fill to achieve X? This approach allows you to direct your training and development resources where they will add the most value to your business, and enable you to measure up your strategy and outcomes against wider business aims.

A skills-based approach

By taking this Talent Lifecycle Management approach, you start to develop the ability to see talent as individuals with evolving sets of skills. So instead of seeing a static snapshot of skills fulfilling a role, you see a trajectory: where they’ve been so far, and all the potential they have to grow — and how you can help them get there.

This allows you to improve your internal mobility and make the most of the skill sets (and latent skill sets) you already have in the business, so you don’t have to rely on competing with everyone else for the same top talent externally.

For example, with the recent boom in renewable energy, energy companies are all scrapping over the same scarce “green” talent. In the UK alone, around 200,000 skilled workers will be needed in the offshore energy sector by 2030, but because the industry is still so young, there’s not a lot of experienced talent to go around. So energy companies are looking internally: about half of the jobs are expected to be filled by people transferring from the oil and gas sector, retrained for work with renewables.

Companies that invest in skills development are twice as likely to improve retention.

And getting your retention strategy right, doesn’t just mean that you get to keep and develop your top employees. It generates a virtuous cycle that affects your whole talent strategy, meaning you can attract them too. With better retention comes better workforce planning, an improved employee experience, and a stronger employer brand — all of which power your talent attraction strategy.

In today’s tight talent market, retention is more important than ever before. Learn more about talent engagement and retention strategies.