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Measuring Success in a Talent-Focused Organization

The Great Resignation has brought the topic of employee engagement to the forefront. What does it take to get employees to care about the organization and the work they do? In other words – how the heck do we stop people from quitting their jobs?

Work as we’ve always known it is changing. We know this to be true, yet the majority of employers have struggled to actually modernize their work environments and prioritize employee engagement strategies.

Throughout history, workplace success has been measured by productivity and profitability. In the late 1990s, this approach to work became less relevant because people started learning and accessing information and networks in new and different ways and entirely new industries emerged largely as a result of technology. 

With more choices, knowledge, and access than ever before, workers began to redefine what they wanted from work, and the competition for talent heated up. 

Now, workplace success is measured by employee engagement and fueled by relationships, and the organizations winning the war for talent are truly talent-focused. These organizations value their people above everything else – not just in a matter of speaking, but a matter of doing.

In a talent-focused organization:

  1. The CEO empowers and encourages employees to unleash their potential.

  2. The organization discusses employee turnover, engagement, and culture as much as revenue.

  3. Employees are always part of the discussion and their views are included in the strategic plan, which is not just a business strategy but a talent strategy.

  4. There’s an effort to incorporate young talent into everything to ensure diversity of thought and age.

People Over Profits

Being talent-focused means prioritizing your people above all else—even money. In the past, talent was the last investment. In today’s talent-driven economy, it must be the first.

In 2013, Buffer, a social media management platform, shocked the world when it published its Open Salaries Formula, revealing the entire team’s salaries as well as the formula used to calculate their salaries. The company has continued to publish periodic updates to its formula.

Why would Buffer do this? Because the company values transparency and equity. 

The entire team worked on the development of the salary formula, along with a web app that anyone can use to find out what they would make if they were part of the team at Buffer. The formula takes into consideration location, and cost of living corrections, as well as pay raises for loyalty and annual bonus options. 

People Strategy

Employee engagement relies on how well an organization invests in its human capital—not just part of it, but all of it. This is why organizations excelling in this area have a people strategy, and not just a human resources strategy. 

Note the difference in the chart:  Human Resources StrategyPeople StrategyBuilds programs and processes to attract, retain, and motivate talentBuilds programs and processes to improve human performanceMeasures and tracks productivity, engagement, and costs related to human capitalDevelops and engages employees to improve organizational performanceAssumes leaders and employees will be accountable, doing what is necessary to help the organization reach its goalsHolds every employee accountable, maintaining communication and focus to ensure the organization reaches its goalsSupports the organization’s business strategyDrives the organization’s business strategy

Turnover for Good

In the Industrial Era, profits mattered, and longevity was prevalent. In the Talent Economy, people matter, and disruption is prevalent. This is changing how organizations think about talent, even for a company founded in 1845.

Initially, Deloitte’s leadership didn’t like the idea of losing young professionals to turnover, but the organization has since accepted that disruption is part of its reality. Many young employees want to work in more than one job and for more than one company, and rather than fight this reality, the organization has adapted to it. 

Deloitte has shifted focus onto relationship-building and equipping their employees with great experiences and skill development. By creating an engaging employee experience, employees will be more engaged, more likely to return to work for Deloitte again when they do leave, and may even be a client. 

Deloitte puts its people first, not to keep employees for life, but to keep colleagues for life. 

A professor at Dartmouth studied the world’s greatest bosses over a 10-year period of time and discovered these top performers kept delivering benefits for their employers, even when they stopped working for the company.  These leaders, most of who were billionaires, weren’t afraid to lose their best people. On the contrary, most willingly unleashed their top performers onto the world, even going out of their way to help them land outside opportunities. 

In fact, these leaders built networks of former employees, intuitively understanding that every star who leaves the company makes the alumni network that much more powerful. These leaders believed a company is better off having the best people for a short time than average people forever, and the research revealed they were uncompromising when it comes to recruiting. 

These leaders didn’t want average; they wanted mind-blowing. They searched high and low for unusually talented individuals, often experimenting with nontraditional hires, and tolerating higher levels of churn when some of these hires didn’t work out.

The bottom line: these companies achieved outstanding results in large part because their leaders abandoned conventional thinking about keeping employees.

Accepting the flow of talent and change that turnover brings makes an organization far more resilient, sustainable, and successful because it’s better tailored to navigate many of today’s realities, including volatile markets and disruption and a gig economy that encourages frequent shifts in employment over the course of an individual’s career.

Furthermore, when a stream of top performers goes on to better things, their departures usually hasten the flow of more top talent into the company. Renowned for having an outstanding boss, these organizations developed reputations as places to go to supercharge a career. High-potential prospects began flocking to these bosses and not their competitors, eager for a chance to train with the best. 

In the Talent Economy, people are an organization’s greatest asset. That means investing in and supporting your team’s skill development, no matter where their careers may take them. 

Putting people first is easier said than done, but it is imperative for organizations seeking to engage talent and compete in the Talent Economy.

Interested in learning more ways to attract and retain talent? Let’s get in touch and see how your organization can thrive in the Talent Economy.

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