Demystifying Talent Development and Employee Retention

Jennifer Giannosa - Senior Consultant ·

What do top HR execs, consultants and specialists say are the biggest challenges in retaining and motivating their talent heading into 2015?

“Keeping critical employees engaged and challenged while competing with progressive employers and dealing with steadily shrinking HR budgets.”

Sound familiar?

These HR issues represented some of the toughest challenges facing HR professionals at the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) roundtable discussion in downtown Chicago in early 2015. If your organization has yet to experience the effects of these emerging HR challenges, be aware that they may be on the horizon. Fortunately, the roundtable discussion provided many creative and progressive solutions to overcome such challenges.

Industry-leading employers understand that engaging and retaining employees involves flexibility in work/life balance and many offer top-of-the-line programs and work perks. However, for small businesses or HR departments with shrinking budgets, inventing creative solutions with similar results presents a unique challenge.

Closing out the roundtable, attendees discussed concise and creative ideas for motivating and retaining their top employees. Although simple in concept, the most well-received ideas involved engaging the C-Suite.

Coaching the C-Suite

As an HR professional, embrace the challenge to keep the C-Suite informed on current and future HR issues. Ultimately, this allows you the opportunity to gain the necessary support to act as true problem solvers. What is the most effective way to grasp the attention of the C-Suite? Use DATA to bring validation to your challenges! C-suites often value communication that is validated by solid data. Use information to frame your issues and help your superiors understand the challenges and solutions your department requires.

C-Suite Lunch Outings

Organize a relationship-building opportunity with C-Suite execs and groups of employees (once per week in small groups). It’s a win-win situation which brings the two groups together to keep employees motivated and challenged and give C-Suites an opportunity to build relationships and understand front-line challenges. Most importantly, both parties will begin to build a relationship founded on trust.

Mentoring Programs > Open Door Policies

Open door policies have good intentions, but can be generic, vague and ultimately ineffective at maintaining a positive, supportive and collaborative office environment. They can feel passive and require employees to engage managers, which may never happen due to fear of rejection or retribution. To take open door policies to the next level, try a mentoring program. Mentoring programs are active and require participation from managers and leaders. They represent a great learning opportunity for both managers and subordinates regarding communicating effectively and building relationships founded on trust. Leaders should focus on understanding how employees like to be recognized and how to tell if they are stressed or engaged.

Guided Stretch Goals

Stretch goals are ambitious goals that help push people to new heights and inspire them to do amazing things! Before setting up a meeting with employees to develop stretch goals, ensure you are prepared. Make it a conversation as you guide your employee through the discussion on setting the specifics of the goals. Follow-up is key; show you are prepared by consistently holding your employees accountable for each goal, every time. Unfortunately, sometimes it only takes one slip-up for an employee to lose motivation and trust in the abilities of his/her leader.

Utilizing these solutions will help establish your organization as a progressive employer of engaged and tenured employees. Each involves careful thought and planning. Choose solutions you think will work best for your organization and those you have the support and resources to see through. Remember, sustainability is key! For more information on any of these creative solutions, please contact me at