Now that the economy and job market are improving, HR leaders are facing a whole new set of challenges when attracting and retaining talented people. With research now showing that just 13% of employees worldwide are engaged in the workplace, employee engagement and retention is key. So as we head towards a more prosperous future,  Rob Caul offers five guiding principles for engaging your workforce and retaining top talent within your organisation.

Published in TrainingZone magazine, June 2015


Today’s post-recession business climate has become a talent battleground. 73% of global CEOs see the lack of availability of skills as a serious threat to their business, up from 63% last year (1). And as long as organisations continue to apply the same talent management strategies as they have done during the past five years, the situation is only going to get worse. Transformation needs to happen, and quickly.

Now that the economy and job market is improving, a very different set of challenges lie ahead for HR and learning leaders. To remain competitive, most organisations need to shift their focus from ‘battening down the hatches’ and cost control, to a more proactive approach to driving employee engagement and retention.

Worryingly, just 13% of people worldwide (2) are engaged at work and an increasingly buoyant job market and improving economy will no doubt cause a rise in employee expectations for improvements to rewards, development opportunities and work-life balance.

So as we head into a more prosperous future, here are five guiding principles for retaining top talent and stopping those revolving doors from spinning:

Culture is king

A recent global study by Deloitte (3) shows ‘culture and engagement’ has skyrocketed to become the number one talent challenge for organisations. Today’s employees expect to have a more open, honest and meaningful relationship with their employer, much in the way that consumers connect and engage with brands they trust in everyday life. This means HR, learning and business leaders need to gain a better understanding of the culture that exists within their organisation and create an environment where everybody feels valued and supported to reach their full potential. Employee motivation and commitment extends far deeper than remuneration – today’s talent wants the opportunity to learn continuously in the workplace and make a difference. Employers need to be asking themselves, why should somebody want to stay?

  1. It’s all about dialogue

It’s essential to understand what motivates and drives different generations in the workplace, so regular informal discussions between talented individuals and their leaders/managers on performance and learning objectives is essential to ensure agility. Generation Y for example tend not to want a career, they want an experience. They want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ and will have no qualms moving wherever they can find the growth opportunities they need. An individual’s expectations and aspirations need to be openly discussed and carefully managed so think about how you can train leaders and managers to coach, give feedback and regularly check in with their team members.

Focus on development

Line managers and L&D practitioners need to work more closely together to help everybody achieve their full potential. It’s worth investing resources to determine who has the potential to create disproportionate value for your organisation so that you can direct more L&D resources to developing and retaining these individuals. Try integrating performance tools like 360 degree feedback into your learning and talent strategies as these can provide valuable insight for key development activities such as coaching and mentoring.

  1. Manage career progression

Growth opportunities drive employee work passion and businesses suffer when talented people feel they have to leave in order to grow. A recent study (4) shows that a quarter of British workers due to retire this year have decided to keep working. So the big question is: how can you keep hold of your star performers when there is no room at the top? The answer: think creatively. Talent mobility initiatives, job rotations and special project assignments provide a good way to stretch high performers, and overseas assignments can be great for helping future leaders see the diversity of the workplace through a wide-angle lens. Remember, everybody needs to have clear objectives and their career progression tracked and managed, regardless of whether they are in a talent pool or not.

  1. A more joined up approach

Organisations and their talent benefit greatly from a joined up approach to L&D, performance management and talent management. Today’s integrated software systems give HR, L&D and senior manages a powerful set of tools to help identify, engage, grow and retain top performers. They make it easier to track and manage career development across the enterprise and to implement more effective development plans for high performing and other talented individuals with specialist skills. An integrated approach also helps ensure training resources are directed where and when they are most needed, helping companies to develop stronger talent pipelines and achieve business agility.

Today’s learning and talent management strategies need to be proactive, agile and capable of adapting to a constantly evolving business environment. As the economy continues its upward trend and competition for talent intensifies further, it will be more critical than ever for organisations to understand the career aspirations of their leaders-in-waiting and focus on providing the right opportunities to grow from within. Organisations that don’t adopt a bolder and more creative approach to talent management will get left behind.

Rob Caul is CEO of Kallidus, a leading provider of learning and talent management solutions. For further information, visit or follow @Kallidus on Twitter


  1. PWC 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2015,
  2. Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report, 2013,
  3. Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, 2015
  4. Prudential Insurance Survey,


Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!