ABCs & 123s of Workforce Attraction and Talent Retention

ABCs & 123s of Workforce Attraction and Talent Retention

September 27, 2021
5:31 pm

Attracting and retaining a talented workforce is key to growing a sustainable business in the long term. Top organizational talent embodies expertise and understanding of how business is done, which are vital to cultivating long-term relationships, sharing knowledge with coworkers, and mentoring new hires. In a competitive marketplace, how can employers attract a formidable pool of candidates and keep talented employees from decamping to new companies?

A Quick Rundown: Recent Workforce Challenges

As a result of the COVID-19pandemic and other factors, a strong wave of workforce trends has emerged. The implications of these trends have already and will continue to have a direct impact on organizations, who must be prepared to deal with these changes. What are some of these emerging trends?

          A Greater Emphasis on Health and Wellness

        The pandemic and the ensuing stress caused an immense change in the way we view life and the importance we place on things like work, family, and friends. Employees throughout the world faced unprecedented obstacles in both their personal and professional lives. As a result, health and wellness in a variety of areas, including physical, mental, and financial health, have been brought to the forefront.

          Organizational Responsibility

         Employees now more than ever want to work for a company that aligns with their personal values. Gartner research shows that “74% of employees expect their employer to become more actively involved in the cultural debates of the day.” Corporate social responsibility and the level of pressure to take a stand on a growing list of social issues is only expected to increase. This can range from DEI, the wage gap, politics, and more.

          Work Location and Time Flexibility

        2020 and the pandemic brought remote work to the forefront. The concept of working from home and a hybrid work model is expected to stay, as many workers prefer the flexibility offered by the system. Beyond just physical work location, the trend of more flexible work hours may see employee productivity measured by something other than time put in.

          Replenishing Workforce Attrition

        The economic strain during the pandemic led to many companies laying off workers or furloughing roles. Now, however, job postings are abundant as businesses seek to replenish their pool of talent. Businesses can and should expect a battle for marketshare in identifying and hiring top talent.


Attracting and retaining a talented workforce is not just a key activity for Human Resources, but it is also an essential ingredient in a sustainable business strategy. This is true now more than ever, as can be seen by the current business environment and workforce trends. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that inJune 2021, job openings reached a series high of 10.1 million, with hires at a staunch increase of 6.7 million. Also noteworthy, quit rates increased to 3.9 million, up from 3.5 million quits in January and February 2020, just prior to the pandemic.


If the past and current data aren’t enough to convince organizations of the level of importance they should be placing on the talent pool, they merely need to look at workforce survey results regarding job satisfaction. A 2021 survey by Prudential found that some48% of Americans are rethinking the type of job they want post-pandemic and 53%that they would be open to switching industries. Employees have had a change in perspective and want more, especially in the realms of proper compensation, balance, and opportunities for growth. While knowing these statistics is good, acting on them is better.


Developing an Effective Retention Strategy

Most firms’ retention strategies revolve around improving job satisfaction. However, a comprehensive 20-year overview of meta-analyses on turnover revealed that low job satisfaction was only the 5th strongest predictor of turnover. The top four predictors were turnover intentions, job search intentions, job search behaviors, and thinking of quitting. These four predictors are part of the withdrawal process workers go through as they develop intentions to leave. Job satisfaction, often, may not be a factor in this process. Thus, focusing solely on improving job satisfaction will not result in an effective retention strategy that curbs employee turnover.

Talent Retention Strategy

It is important to create strategic retention programs that go beyond what “pushes” people to leave –like low salary and low job satisfaction – and also considers the “pull”factors that prevent workers from developing and acting on their intentions to leave. Pull factors are what creates a feeling of embeddedness for workers in their organization. Workers that feel embedded are interconnected to others in the organization and have taken the initiative to build relationships. Among these workers, turnover is less likely.


Job Embeddedness: The Three Pillars

To cultivate commitment to the organization and community, firms should focus on the three pillars of job embeddedness – Links, Fit, and Sacrifice.

Job Embeddedness

        Connections with other people in the organization and surrounding community. These can be with coworkers, mentors, or friends in the community. To foster links, firms could plan social functions outside of work for employees to bond with their coworkers and surrounding community. By developing relationships with  others, workers feel more connected to the workplace and community. Most employees’ work is important to them, but they also have lives outside of work. By fostering links, your employees’ lives will be more satisfied and as a result, they’ll be more likely to stay.


       The compatibility of the worker with their job, organization, and community. To foster fit, firms could arrange personalized mentorships for workers to ensure responsiveness to their individual needs. By fostering fit, your employees will feel more in-tune with the organization and their job.


        The awareness of the tangible and intangible losses workers would incur by leaving. Because sacrifice is both tangible and intangible, there are many ways to foster it. Increasing compensation and providing benefits packages is a tangible way to foster sacrifice. Intangibly, providing ample opportunities for workers to see their family and create a good work-life is a nice way to make workers feel less like they are making steep personal sacrifices to work at your firm.

Best Practices: Creating a Workforce Built for the Future

Keeping in mind the overall goal of job embeddedness, business leaders and decision-makers can help build a sustainable workforce by employing the following approaches:  


          Invest in Your Workforce

        In order to obtain and retain your workforce, and especially high-performing individuals, organizations must readily invest in the interest of those who work for them  in ways that include but are not solely limited to compensation. These methods can vary from organization to organization, but training opportunities are a tried- and-true practice for not just engaging and developing employees, but also for retaining your workforce and lowering discharge rates. Johnson & Johnson has         implemented a program called LEAD to cultivate talent and increase embeddedness. Company managers select high-performing employees who are also deemed  as high potential. These employees embark upon a program spanning nine months, in which they work with outside coaches and develop a growth project for their individual units. Following completion of the program, these high performers are equipped with a personal development plan and follow-up meetings with key personnel in HR. As this case study shows, richly sowing your field of talent will allow your organization to reap abundantly. Learn how Bâton Global delivered a transformational leadership program which led to increased engagement here.

          Identify Crucible Positions

        Keeping top talent doesn’t mean just providing great learning opportunities, it also means allowing employees to put these practices into play. Identifying essential firm roles that provide an excellent environment for growth (while also providing a challenge) will help firms forge a robust pool of talent. Furthermore, by having individuals step up to higher roles, organizations will cement a culture that builds upon employee’s desire to achieve and be challenged, all of which further dig into the concept of embeddedness. Learn how Bâton Global supported a financial services company fill a key role internally here.

          Build Upon Your Internal Culture

        Creating a vibrant and enjoyable culture at an organization is no easy task, yet it is a monumental advantage for those who are seeking to attract and retain the  upper echelon of talent. An amazing workplace culture is not just about providing growth opportunities in the field, but also through a respecting empathetic, and  supportive disposition towards employees. Employers must honestly ask themselves why an employee might want to or be willing to resign or leave for another firm. This understanding of what their employees value provides motivation to create a more satisfied workforce. AMN Healthcare serves as an excellent example of a company who has built a great system for internal culture, while also integrating essential business operations. AMN constructed an annual assessment of talent by measuring ability, engagement, and aspiration. This was integrated into their succession plan procedure, which consisted of interviews from upcoming high performers. Not only was AMN able to fulfill the essential business task of planning for the future, but they were also able to gauge their current culture and strength.


          Proudly Display Who You Are

        The internal culture of an organization plays a huge role in external perception. Your firm’s internal environment should serve as a beacon for attracting like-minded  and talented individuals into the organization. As noted earlier, the number of organizations taking stances on social issues is expected to increase, meaning that  corporate social responsibility and social performance will become means of gauging both organizational values and internal culture. Thanks to technology and social media, there is an abundance of methods to show others who you are. Whether through social media posts, news coverage, brochures, philanthropic pursuits, ads, and even organizational procedures, displaying your resources and your culture provides a peek into your organization, helping you to attract not just talent, but the right talent.


Final Thoughts

Workforce attraction and retention are critical for your firm’s longevity, yet nailing down a specific plan of action can be daunting due specific business needs, workforce trends, and more.  A strategic retention program should thoroughly analyze current workforce and market trends and get deep into the roots of the organization to cultivate the three pillars of embeddedness. Through this, you will be sowing a deep-seated and strong organizational culture that will allow you to reap the benefits of both strong retention and unparalleled attraction.

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September 27, 2021
5:31 pm
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