When you strip away everything, all organisations are a collection of people working on tasks together to produce a product or service that satisfies the end user. I hear it every day: “But we are different”. What they do may be different, but they’re still a group of human beings with fundamentally the same needs. This is a good place to start when considering attracting and retaining top talent.
Deloitte’s newly released Global Capital Trends 2014 survey findings report that engagement and retention is the top issue on the minds of CEOs and HR managers. The survey involved over 2500 businesses in over 90 countries, and covered all the major industries across the globe.
Are we overcomplicating attraction and retention? Like a lot of what we do in HR, I think so.
In today’s skills-short marketplace, many HR practitioners are adopting an ‘employer of choice’ strategy, offering a variety of employee benefits in an attempt to attract and retain quality staff. A lot of these companies are doing this in a superficial way. It’s often more about image than substance. The majority of today’s employees are not influenced by employers’ shallow claims of being an employer of choice. It’s not as simple as offering prospective employees trinkets or using marketing gimmickry.
Above all else, relationships are the one factor that either keep us together or drive us apart. In the world of work, the employment relationship is the foundation of industry since the industrial revolution. This working relationship between employee and employer has changed profoundly and dramatically since the later part of the 20th century. The needs of employees and organisations have overwhelmingly changed. Not recognising these changes is the death knell of attraction and retention.
Here are the top five myths HR practitioners should be aware of when it comes to attraction and retention:
Myth 1: Job descriptions are critical
The job description is an artifact from the scientific management movementof over 100 years ago led by US mechanical engineer/management consultant Frederick Taylor. Taylor thought the best way to manage employee productivity was to quarantine their work to a narrow cluster of tasks. The modern workplace doesn’t function that way: people perform a range of roles every day that are both task-specific and non-task specific. Role descriptions must replace job descriptions and include team, innovator and skill acquisition roles.
Myth 2: A satisfied employee is a productive worker
Being satisfied in your job doesn’t necessarily mean being productive. And vice versa: being productive doesn’t always mean satisfied. No research that I’ve come across shows a direct relationship between job satisfaction and productivity. Think of a country club; members are doubtlessly satisfied but they’re not particularly productive places. So emotional commitment and job satisfaction are different constructs. It’s the engagement of hearts and minds that is key.
Myth 3: Looking for loyal employees
You can be loyal to an organisation, but not be committed. And you can be committed to the goals of an organisation without being loyal. We’re looking for committed employees, not loyal employees. I’d rather a committed employee who stays for two years than a loyal employee with lukewarm commitment that stays in the one organisation for 20 years.
Myth 4: Training is the answer
People don’t want to be trained, they want to be developed. And people grow and develop in a variety of ways beyond sitting in a room and being exposed to a preset curriculum with an expert out the front. Learning and development is a more constructive approach. We need to use a variety of approaches to develop employees beyond training.
Myth 5: Building functional teams
We spend significant amounts of money building departmental teams and management teams but relatively little on cross-functional communication and project-based teams. Organisations are a series of short, medium and long-term projects, not a bunch of silos. Cross-functional communication is an antidote for maneuverability in the marketplace.
HR practitioners would do well to be aware of these five myths in their planning. These fallacies negatively impact staff retention and do nothing to attract top performers. Top talent is interested in playing a role in the success of an organisation, not following a job description to the letter. They want to be engaged in their work; being satisfied is a secondary consideration. Top talent is attracted to enterprises that commit to their growth in exchange for committing to the organisation’s goals. They want to cut through the bureaucracy, get results, and work collaboratively across the organisation, not wallow around in a harmonious department.
Read more from Dr Tim Baker by visiting the AHRI bookshop.
To learn more about talent strategy and process attend one of AHRI’s HR in Focus events being held throughout Australia.