Struggling to Retain Top Talent? Be an Active Participant in Your Own Rescue!

Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development ·

This past summer, my wife and I went white water rafting on the Nantahala River in Bryson City, North Carolina (which I would strongly recommend, by the way). As the guide explained the safety instructions, the group was told that if you have an “out-of-raft-experience,” it is important to “Be an Active Participant in Your Own Rescue.” In other words, if you fall out of the raft, don’t just give up and hope for the best. The guide then proceeded to walk us through step-by-step directions about what we could do to “Be an Active Participant in Our Own Rescue.” He told us what to do, and more importantly, he gave us context around the why.

  1. Wrap your arms around your knees and point your nose and toes at the sky (this helps to keep your face away from rocks, the water, and also prevents your feet from getting trapped under rocks, trees, etc.)
  2. Make sure you don’t put your feet down and try to stand up (because they can get trapped under rocks, trees, etc.)
  3. Start swimming sidestroke or backstroke toward the raft, rather than freestyle or breast stroke (again, this helps to keep your face away from rocks, the water, etc.)
  4. When you get close enough, the guide will throw you a bag/rope
  5. Make sure to grab on to the rope and not the bag (because there is extra rope/slack in the bag, and if you grab the bag, the excess rope will keep coming out of the bag, placing you significantly further away from the raft)
  6. Start pulling yourself toward the raft and when you get close enough, someone from the raft will grab you up by your personal floatation device, and pull you back into the raft (let them pull you in and don’t try to grab onto them, or else you could pull them in as well)

As they were talking, it struck me that if people didn’t listen to the safety instructions, and simply let their instincts kick in, that they would most likely make some significant mistakes.

When I got back to the office on Monday, I started thinking about the employers that we meet on an almost daily basis and was able to draw a handful of parallels from our rafting experience:

  1. Most employers we talk to admit that they are in a constant state of hiring and are struggling to retain top talent. In other words, they are having an out-of-raft experience when it comes to retaining their employees.
  2. Very few employers have a step-by-step plan of action. They simply don’t know what to do to get back in the raft and put an end to their retention woes.
  3. Sometimes instinct kicks in. They think they are doing the right thing, when in reality, they are compounding the issue and making things worse.
  4. They do not fully understand why their actions are important and/or cannot clearly articulate the why.

If your organization is struggling with talent retention, it may be time to do some collective soul searching. Are you and your leaders truly active participants in your own rescue, or are you simply floating down the river, hoping for the best?

If you are currently floating down the river hoping for the best, we are here to help. Leveraging our Talent Survey, we will help you understand the root cause of your talent attraction, development and/or retention woes and help your team make some great data-driven decisions. From there, we can conduct a 1/2-Day Talent Planning Session with you and your leadership team, where we will help you gain consensus around the top talent-related initiatives that will have the greatest impact on your organization.

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Additionally, we will provide you with a Talent Road Map, or a detailed plan of action. Utilizing this effective process, you truly will become “An Active Participant in Your Own Rescue,” significantly increasing the likelihood of success for your company!