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Forming your talent retention strategy in the Great Resignation era

Forming your talent retention strategy in the Great Resignation era

Hiring managers are tasked with finding the best talent, but are these shining stars shooting in and then right back out of your business? Early hiring decisions can be an integral part of your talent retention strategy. Let’s explore how hiring for potential can help you find — and keep — the very best talent.

Our talent retention strategies aren’t working

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: the world we’re returning to isn’t the same as the one we left. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the workplace.

The Great Resignation cemented lingering feelings that we are all looking to change how we work. And if companies aren’t ready to change with them, workers are willing to walk. In April 2021 alone, 4 million Americans quit their jobs. 

Employees today expect their employers to take real action to protect their work-life balance, offer flexibility, and treat them with respect. And with vacancies reaching record highs, if you’re not ready to provide them with what they need, they know that they can find someone who will.

Who can fill their place?

When experienced staff leaves, employers struggle to find suitable replacements. So when we take into account that 41% of workers globally are thinking about leaving over the next 12 months, then many employers face real challenges indeed.

Gen Z may have a reputation for being quick to move between jobs, but this might not be their natural inclination. A recent study found that 42% of recent graduates expected to remain in their first post-university role for at least two years. 10% anticipated staying for at least five years.

Early talent is frequently enthusiastic, energetic, and more than willing to give it their all. Yes, you will have to train them in some of the hard skills they haven’t developed yet. And, yes, they may need a little more support for the first few months. This investment is frequently far less than the costs of recruiting another experienced but ultimately short-term candidate. 

Clearly, finding and fostering early talent is valuable. But how do you hang onto them?

Talent retention works when you invest in future potential

Rather than focusing on seeking out experienced talent, consider supporting the talent you already have and hiring the talent you hope will stay with you for the long haul.

Think about what would make you want to stay at a company long-term. Is a free gym membership going to cut it? Or an annual bonus? Those might work for a while, but you will probably be able to find similar perks elsewhere.

🗯 “We want to know what the pay structure is. We want to know who’s getting paid and why. How many years is the progression? Is this a stable job? We are done with the gig economy.”

Lily fothergill, What Gen Z wants from work

Now imagine that your company was continuously investing in your training, offering personal and professional development courses, and providing you with opportunities to shine. Wouldn’t that have a significant impact on your desire to stay?

This is especially true for talent from diverse backgrounds

And what if you weren’t previously a high-achiever? For talent from low-income backgrounds or those who struggled in school, having someone believe in them and help them achieve their potential can be incredibly powerful. Few will be willing to give that up lightly.

Providing training for early talent brings other benefits as well. Staff loyalty can have a substantial impact on productivity. Few interventions can build employee loyalty more quickly than demonstrating that you’re willing to invest in their development.

Retaining early talent

Gen-Z may be happier to stay with great employers longer than we typically assume, but they’re no fools. They recognize their worth, and they won’t hesitate to leave if they don’t feel they’re getting what they need out of a job. They’re much more comfortable freelancing than previous generations, and they’re happy to explain several short-term roles on their CV.

Does high turnover of early talent matter? 

The short answer is yes. It really does.

Westwood International points out that demographic changes in the workforce are creating leadership vacuums. 

🗯 “Demographic shifts are bringing on a leadership shortage that may be hard to recover from if we don’t make crucial investments in leadership development today.”

Companies that view early talent as a renewable resource have failed to see the big picture. Early talent isn’t just workers you can mould to fit your needs. They’re your future leaders, so finding and keeping the very best can have a dramatic impact on the future of your business.

How to hire with future performance in mind

Whether you’re willing to ignore experience altogether or not, it’s essential to consider how we might be able to evaluate a candidate’s potential. But how can we do this? Is it even possible?

As with all recruitment areas, we can take steps to improve our ability to hire for future performance. But we don’t have all of the answers. At least, not yet.

The past may be a prologue, but finding a way to understand the context of an applicant’s history is essential to recognizing their future potential. This is especially true when considering social mobility. Re-tuning your hiring process to account for socioeconomic background, different types of experience, and focusing on the skills roles really need can help you find talent from underrepresented demographics or backgrounds.

🗯 “[Gen Z’s] intuition is off the charts, way more than any other generation when they were younger […] Young people haven’t just sat there doing nothing for this entire time, they’ve probably learned more than ever, more than would in a classroom.”

Samantha Hornsby, What Gen Z wants from work

The weight of experience

Think of it this way. If you had two runners with identical times, but one was carrying a heavy weight, which has the most significant potential? 

Candidates who have been to less prestigious schools and colleges, who have had to work throughout their studies, or who haven’t been able to access higher education carry that weight. 

Identifying these candidates early in the hiring process can help you avoid screening them out unnecessarily.

Hiring for future performance is rarely about hard skills, which makes focusing on experience and past performance substantially less relevant. Instead, we’re looking for creativity, determination, the ability to bring out the best in others, and the ability to think strategically.

Finding those skills can require some creativity

Some employers use assessment centers rather than simple interviews to help evaluate candidates on these leadership skills. Traditional recruitment, with high expected turnover, makes this approach prohibitively costly for most companies. 

However, if we consider recruitment as part of our talent retention strategy, we may be able to justify the additional investment in each recruit.

Let’s connect across departments, speak with managers to decide who should stay and who should go, and fully explore what we want from new recruits. 

Hiring for potential isn’t all new. Headstart has always aimed to help you find talent that will exceed your expectations. We make it easy for you to identify different pathways for talent to showcase their skills and highlight candidates who are likely to shine. 


Contact us now for a demo and let us help you future-proof your talent retention strategy.

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