The Art of Attracting and Retaining Talent

7 min read

Wouldn't it be great if as a manager you had a queue of suitable applicants knocking on your door who you know would be a great addition to your team?

Wouldn't it be great to go to work with a smile on your face knowing that you’re working for a business that's the best in your industry? Knowing your career is going places and you're surrounded by individuals whom you respect, who respect you, teams that share ideas and management who you feel can really enhance your skills?

We’re all familiar with those names whose culture and brand has a great reputation, such as Google or Facebook, and needless to say both of these are showing record profits year-on-year. What is it that makes these businesses stand out from their competition? What do they do to keep their employees so happy that they're not tempted by other offers?


As a recruiter, I understand the struggles of finding top talent in niche markets; I've spent years enticing candidates on behalf of companies with great working environments but who still fail, for some reason, to secure the best applicants for themselves. I also empathise with the frustrations of spending countless hours interviewing unsuitable candidates or even worse, finally finding the right person for then have the offer of employment turned down. Once you have them on board, it is so important for them to remain in your team. What do staff really expect from their leaders? How should organisations adapt in order to retain their potential future leaders and attract more of these types of individuals? Over nearly a decade, I've certainly noticed that businesses are putting an increased focus on retaining best performers.


Over nearly a decade, I've certainly noticed that businesses are putting an increased focus on retaining best performers, protecting their brand name and attracting top talent. This is a struggle for many companies, regardless of size and industry, and one which remains the priority for business owners and HR professionals. Long gone are the days when I dealt with numerous suitable applicants for one opening, in fact there is a clear shortage of top talent in the marketplace. Organisations, therefore must sharpen up their strategies and methods for identifying, attracting and retaining a solid workforce. 


Eric Smidt, the executive chairman of Google, is a firm believer that their success is not down to their products or services but their workforce and its culture. Google has not only managed to retain their best performers but also attract the industry’s top talent. In today's forever changing, and at times uncertain climate this is imperative to not only thrive but even survive. Eric Smidt, the executive chairman of Google, is a firm believer that their success is not down to their products or services but their workforce and its culture. It is needless to say how important a dedicated and skilled workforce is to an organisation and its future. In order to successfully expand, businesses must not only hire the correct individuals, but also retain their current, especially the well-performing workforce.


In the last nine years, I've spoken to job seekers who have highlighted their needs and wants, so have a fair understanding of what it is that would make these individuals really commit and put great effort into their roles. Again, I have relationships with those on the other side of the fence, the leaders who strive to grow their workforce, develop their employees and expand their businesses. I even sat back and thought to myself, what is it that drives me? What makes me really want to get up in the morning and work my hardest to the best of my ability? Well, I know for sure that I do and always wanted to work for companies who have a clear vision, provide me with clear direction and incentivise me in the right ways. I've always striven to work for the best brands and the best managers who could enhance my career and knowledge whilst also taking into account my opinions and ideas.


Combining my thoughts with research, I wanted to come up with some ways in which organisations can attract and retain the right talent, allowing them to gain a true competitive advantage. Here are four suggestions:


Rewards and Recognition

Research shows that employees who are rewarded for their work were happier in their careers ultimately resulting in better performance. In many cases these rewards don't necessarily have to be financial, as career progression and incentives also come top of the list. It has proven many a time that individuals are more committed when their work is recognised and appreciated. Let's be honest, none of us would turn down a financial reward, lunch with the boss, a free holiday or any of the other incentives offered these days by many organisations, but people crave attention. If you put in extra effort or achieve something, you want this to be recognised by not only your leaders but also your peers. Rewards and recognition are therefore at the forefront of many retention programs. 


Company Culture

We all know that spending a period of eight hours (often even longer) in the office sounds like a daunting prospect. This can only be made better by making your days fun, productive and overall, enjoyable.


I mentioned above that Google’s executive chairman, highlighted the importance of their culture and the role it plays in retaining and attracting talent. Individuals seek a community feel, good relationships with their colleagues and mutual respect from their leaders. The culture starts with an efficient and careful hiring process, as wrong hires could result in a disruption of the workforce with potentially catastrophic results. There are many ways in which organisations can retain, or in fact if needed improve their environment. Shared values and strong peer relationships are highlighted as necessary components of a satisfactory company culture.


Work-Life Balance

Flexibility is another topic which comes up not only in conversations with potential applicants, but has also been highlighted in many of the journals that I read. As a mum, I have a particular interest in what organisations offer in terms of flexibility and this is probably my main decision making criteria when picking a job. Many, just like me, require a job which allows them to meet certain commitments, so no wonder a healthy work-life balance should be high on the agenda of many organisations. 



I often hear the same complaints from job seekers regarding their roles and similar reasons for searching for a new employer:


  • “I’m being micro-managed”
  • “my manager’s on my case”
  • “I have no autonomy”


Employees respond well to trust and understanding; good workers want independence and crave self-governance. By driving creativity, being open to ideas and allowing a bit of flexibility, leaders can really ensure organisational innovation. 


So there you go, a few ideas, by no means am I saying that they cover all angles for attracting and retaining top talent - I’m not even sure if this is 100% achievable. With globalisation, economic climate changes and other factors which will continue to push for strategic changes, the need for a competitive talent attraction strategy within organisations will remain. I know that it’s not easy to please everyone, well…  it's probably impossible, but some small changes may just result in satisfying more and that's the start of what is a long and continuously evolving journey of running and growing a successful business. 

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