How to retain the best employees through effective talent management

Published by:
Owen Jones
October 1, 2020
min read

Owen Jones is the Senior Content Marketer at Zoomshift, an online schedule maker app. He is an experienced SaaS marketer, specializing in content marketing, CRO, and FB advertising.

All business owners and hiring managers understand the importance of hiring the best people. However, that’s not where your job ends. You also need to work to retain those great performers. 

According to the Center for American Progress, employee turnover costs range from 16% of the annual salary of an entry-level job, up to 213% of the annual salary for executive positions. The costs increase if the employee was one of your high performers: 

Source: Retensa

This is why talent management is so important. With proper talent management, businesses can retain their most productive and engaged employees. This allows you to avoid decreased morale and reduced productivity. Talent retention is a huge part of remaining competitive in your industry. 

So how exactly do you do effective talent management? Let’s get started. 

What is talent management?

According to the John Hopkins University, talent management (TM) is a “set of integrated organizational HR processes designed to attract, develop, motivate and retain productive, engaged employees”. These processes are all interrelated and may overlap. 

Source: Business Module Hub

Talent acquisition refers to the recruitment of the best employees. Once hired, the company should ensure the employee is supported and trained to perform well and reach their full potential. Of course, the employee also has a responsibility to perform at the highest possible standard. The employee’s talent is then developed through opportunities, training, and development to ensure employee retention.

Although talent management is an HR term, the HR department is not solely responsible for it. HR should work with managers and supervisors to implement effective talent management strategies in their teams. Managers and supervisors are best placed to identify and develop talent, while HR provides the support they need to do so in line with the company’s strategic objectives. 

Best Practices In Talent Management

Now that you understand the basic functions of talent management in the employee lifecycle, let’s look at some best practices. Here are some of the strategies you can use to ensure you keep your best people for as long as possible. 

Ensure targeted recruiting

Great talent management begins with hiring the right candidates. This means looking at more than just whether or not an applicant possesses the skills and experience you think are needed for a particular role. You must also ensure the candidate is aligned with your company's mission and values.

The idea is to hire great people whose core values and competencies align with those of the company from the start. 

Remember: good candidates are in demand and they are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. Striving to create a positive candidate experience will ensure that, should the candidate receive several offers, they choose to come and work with you.

Implement effective onboarding

Onboarding is one of the most important aspects of the employee lifecycle and can make or break job satisfaction and, ultimately, retention. The onboarding process should welcome the employee, ensure they feel valued, and give them all the relevant information and tools they’ll need. 

Here are some of the things to include: 

  • Introducing them to key members of their team and the senior leadership. 
  • Ensuring their IT account and email address are set up. 
  • Give them access to any tools they’ll need, such as the database, your online scheduling software, and your preferred team collaboration tools. 
  • Information about payroll, PTO, and sick leave. 
  • Any rules they’ll need to abide by, such as your anti-harassment policy and dress code. 

Ensure that you give the new employee all the materials they’ll need to help them adjust easily to the new workplace. If there is any mandatory training they need to do, make sure they have access to that, too. 

If you guide your new hires every step of the way, you will reap the benefits. According to Glassdoor, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by an astounding 82%, and productivity by over 70%. 

Set clear expectations

Great employees want to do well. In order to perform at their best, they need to know what is expected. If an employee doesn’t know what the boss (or the company) wants, they will become stressed, feel disillusioned, and ultimately be less productive. This can be avoided if HR and managers are proactive.

As soon as someone is hired, HR and immediate supervisors should let the employee know what is expected and what success looks like in the post they hold. This includes day-to-day job duties as well as the company’s medium- and long-term goals and how the new employee’s role fits into that vision. You should also ensure they understand their key performance indicators (KPIs) and how their performance will be evaluated.

Setting clear, realistic expectations allows employees to excel by meeting and exceeding them. By giving new employees clear direction from the start, managers will be able to properly identify those that have strong potential and develop their talent accordingly. 

Give feedback on performance

Giving regular performance feedback to all your employees is essential. People cannot perform at their best if they don’t know how they’re doing. If you conduct regular performance evaluations, you also identify any performance shortfalls before they become serious. Promptly addressing issues reduces employee turnover and helps everyone to achieve their potential. 

Remember to complement feedback with coaching. You want your employees to learn from their mistakes and develop. The best way to do this is to offer plenty of support, information, and access to training. Investing in your employees’ continued great performance and improvement ultimately leads to better employee retention rates.  

Recognize good performance

Providing feedback on work that doesn’t meet the required standard is essential. However, only offering feedback when you have something negative to say is a surefire way to make your team feel stressed and resentful. Make sure you recognize good performance, too. 

A “thank you” and a “good job” can go a long way. But don’t stop there. You should also put in place performance-based incentives to reward strong employees and improve workplace culture. People are happiest when they feel appreciated. 

According to Snack Nation, the lack of appreciation is among the main reasons employees quit their jobs:

Source: Snack Nation

According to a study published in the Human Resource Management Journal, performance-based incentives (particularly financial ones) are positively associated with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and trust in management.  

Perks you can offer your high-performing employees might include financial bonuses, extra vacation days, or small gifts. You could also hold a staff awards event to recognize the best performers of the year. 

Put In place succession programs

Hopefully, by this stage, your managers and supervisors are able to identify employees with great talent and potential. One of the best ways to develop this talent and support these employees is to have succession programs in place. 

Succession programs should be based on the employee’s projected career path within the company and developed in conjunction with both employee and their manager. The manager should be able to determine the knowledge, skills, characteristics, and experience the employee will need to advance in the organization. HR can then provide support in the form of access to trainings and development opportunities aimed at helping the employee achieve those goals. 

By investing properly in promising employees, the company not only prevents turnover, but also helps increase employee loyalty to the company. Loyal employees who feel valued keep the company succession pipeline healthy.

Larry Brand, Chief Human Resources Officer of Elkay Manufacturing, says, “With succession planning, you know where the gaps are, what talent you have in place, know how to develop them in the upcoming years until the position is ready.”


It can be time-consuming to implement talent management processes. However, some aspects can be automated. Talent management applications and how have significant time- and labor-saving functionalities. Performance reviews, employee data reports, and staff satisfaction surveys can all be undertaken using HR software. This frees team members up to work closely with managers, supervisors, employees, and job candidates. 

With automation, you can also ensure that your talent management practices integrate seamlessly together. A fully integrated approach to talent management makes it clear to your employees that there is a direct relationship between their performance and their success in the company. 

Retaining the Best Employees

Companies must make every effort to hire and retain the best employees. The key to retaining staff through talent management success is to be strategic and think long-term. 

From the recruitment process through to onboarding, development, and beyond, companies must implement talent management best practices. The goal is to identify individuals who have the potential to succeed, and to give them the tools they need to develop their talents and advance in the company. 

With effective talent management, you can ensure your best employees stay happy, loyal, and performing at their best. You can also help secure the company’s future. The great talent you’re promoting now might ultimately lead the organization someday. 

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