Retain Top Talent as the Economy Recovers

Get ready...

Written by Deanna Hunter

There are hints everywhere that the economy is beginning its slow recovery.  I’ve been seeing some business activity that makes me think its true, particularly in the number of recruiting conversations I’ve been having recently.  From an HR perspective getting prepared for a recovery is very smart.  And certainly, thinking about recruiting is exciting.  But thinking about how you are going to retain top talent is perhaps even more important.

Over the past year or two you may have been thinking that your good employees won’t leave because there is no where to go.  Well, maybe that’s true when we are at the bottom of an economic decline.  However, as the economy starts to bounce back and things begin to hum again, top performers may take the chance to jump.  In many cases employees feel like they were asked to do more with less and so may be disgruntled.  Many have had no salary increases over the last two years, or worse, have taken cut backs.  Perhaps they’ve lost some of the benefits or perks they once had.

A lousy job market likely just delays an unhappy employees’ departure until the economy bounces back.  There will be a demand for talent as organizations begin to hire again and it will become an
“employee’s market”.  So here are just a few things you can do to retain top talent ahead of the job market picking up:

  • Communicate openly and honestly. Just as you’ve been doing (I hope) during the recession you need to keep the communication going as the organization begins to rebound.  What’s going on in the business?  What’s the short and mid-term plan?  Are things such as my salary and benefits going back to where they were before the downturn? The phone is starting to ring again.  Does that mean we’re all clear?  Listen to their questions and concerns and address them head on.
  • Recognize them for sticking it out. Be sure you say ‘thanks’ and acknowledge that its been a tough couple of years.  It doesn’t have to be costly recognition but it needs to be authentic and meaningful.
  • Identify your critical folks and ensure you have a plan in place to keep them. If they are critical because they have potential and you are grooming them for a new role down the road try creating a development plan for them.  If they are critical because they are a top performer, be sure you look at their salary.  You can also give them some leadership or mentorship accountability so they can share their expertise.  Either way, let your critical people know you haven’t forgotten about them.

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