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The drive to identify
and retain talent

Recruiting and retaining talent has become a top priority for HR departments. Investment in learning, development and talent management is increasing to reflect this shift in corporate ideology.

Boosts to productivity, increased opportunities and job satisfaction are just some of the advantages of this activity. But finding the right talent management professional can be extremely challenging.

“With greater awareness of the value of developing your own employees to avoid disruption and the cost of finding replacements, development opportunities are at the forefront of most employers’ minds,” says Tom Godber, Associate Director at Hays Human Resources.

Unearthing future leaders

At the heart of the Learning & Development function is succession planning, which enables organisations to put measures into place to ensure that their next generation of leaders and managers has been ‘groomed’ and is primed to take on new levels of responsibility when the time arises.

Given that the top level of talent is in very short supply, succession planning has taken on added significance. The importance of talent management has further been accentuated by the position of strength enjoyed by job seekers in an HR market that is predominantly candidate-driven.

“The need to offer career development is noticeably higher on the HR agenda and there is more emphasis on structured career development, talent identification and management and organisational development,” continues Tom Godber, Associate Director at Hays Human Resources.

Financial wane

Salary is losing its lustre as the main consideration for jobseekers as the work-life balance momentum continues apace with employees looking for improved quality of life. Nevertheless, the expectation that prospective employers should offer more salary to encourage someone to change companies still holds sway.

Offering varied and flexible benefits is a major part of the recruitment and retention process: factors such as job role variety, increased responsibility, flexible working hours, free car parking, childcare vouchers and commute time are just some of the things high on jobseekers’ wish lists.

“Work-life balance is an important issue with some companies pushing on initiatives, for example flexible working hours and buying holiday time. Candidates are aware that if they are not satisfied in development they can find an employer who can,” adds Paul McGilloway, managing consultant for Hays Human Resources.


Companies are using innovative techniques to ensure that theirs is the destination of choice; for example, using existing employees as ‘corporate champions’ is a way to attract new graduates by providing prospective applicants with a better picture of the culture they might be joining.

Research into job satisfaction has also revealed that the majority of employees place great store on informal training - interacting with colleagues to learn on the job - and this is deemed more important than the usual diet of external training courses. A factor that often gets overlooked is that many employees derive a sense of enjoyment and belonging in the rituals of office life and hence a rewarding experience is just as important in nurturing talent.

Identifying and nurturing talent

The balance of power between organisations and employees has changed. With loyalty to employers on the wane, the onus is now on companies to become L&D organisations and for them to introduce measures to retain and recruit the best workers.

While the attraction, retention, promotion and development of staff rightly remain a top priority for most HR departments, research into the subject suggests that talent or ‘human capital’ must be nurtured and allowed to grow, and for this to happen, the conditions and structure must be right.

As Neil Andrews, Associate Director at Hays Human Resources, concludes, “The crux for organisations is first and foremost to identify the talent and then work on developing and retaining that talent.”