Towers Watson: How to Retain Your Best Talent

Last week, the HR consultants at Towers Watson published a research report that they say holds the keys to retaining top talent. "Hiring activity in the United States is beginning to pick up," the authors assert, which means that business leaders have a new challenge on their hands—that is, "retaining the talented employees they need to move from recovery to growth," says Towers Watson.

While it may seem an obvious priority to any company, the firm calls talent retention "one of the greatest challenges companies will address this year for them to grow and succeed." Fewer than half of respondents to a Towers Watson global employee survey indicated that they their employers do enough to keep talented colleagues around. Now that hiring prospects are trending upward, more employees are considering jumping ship for greener pastures.

So what can a business do to lock up its best talent? The firm identifies five simple moves that business leaders can make to keep their talent satisfied and more likely to stay on for good.

Help employees chart their careers. 4 out of 5 employees who plan to stay at their companies cite "long-term career opportunities" as a reason to stay on. Conversely, only 1 in 4 employees preparing to leave their companies recognize these same long-term opportunities.

Recognize good performers. 60 percent of employees who plan to stay with their current employers feel that they're recognized appropriately for their working efforts; only 20 percent of those planning to leave feel the same.

Communicate more. 2 out of 3 employees who plan to hold onto their jobs long-term indicate that their leadership communicates effectively and consistently; fewer than 1 out of 3 employees who are preparing to leave agree with that sentiment.

Help employees balance work and life. Almost 70 percent of employees who plant to stay with their companies "feel management generally understands the problems they face in their jobs, and that the company culture supports their need to balance work and life." Only 30 percent of those planning to leave their companies feel the same.

Survey the workforce. Three quarters of employees who plan to stay put recognize their management's efforts to seek out and implement employee feedback. Top talent is more likely to be critical of a company's direction and more willing to get involved, the report suggests; it's critical to give these high-performers a voice, lest they feel unappreciated or ignored.

Patrick Kulesa, Towers Watson's top research executive, shared his thoughts on the findings. "Retaining top performers will clearly be a significant talent management priority for this year," he said. "Yet our employee research data seem to indicate that retention levels will continue to slide. As the new year begins, we believe companies that pursue these and other initiatives will be in a much stronger position to enhance their market share and fuel business growth."

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