Retaining Employees in Rapidly Changing Industries





Coach with Basav: Retaining Employees in Rapidly Changing Industries

“Brains, like hearts, go where they are appreciated.” 
Robert McNamara, former president Ford Motor Company

This blog is a result of some thoughts I shared at an HR Conference in Bucharest recently. I had structured the conversation in 3 distinct parts:

  1. Who should the HR community retain and how?
  2. Who is the typical employee in today’s corporate environment?
  3. How do you handle change?

Who should you retain and how?

As we all know, the most obvious way to retain employees is by giving them more money. This is something that is adopted by almost every company I have come across and the better your performance and/or the more senior you are, the more rewarded you get. Money could be in the form immediate cash (increments, bonuses), long term incentives (stock incentives, deferred earn outs) or anything similar. However, there are equally obvious limitations with money – both from an employee as well as a company perspective.

From an employee perspective, money tends to lose its glitter beyond a point. Very few C-suite managers are in it for the money. Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs kicks in and other factors such as power, the ability to make a difference, leaving a legacy etc attain a much greater degree of importance to the executive than material wealth alone. Similarly, for the young star performer, while money is clearly more important, they are mainly driven by their career objectives. From the company perspective, throwing money at the problem is both expensive and unsustainable – but, crucially, it does not address the population who are neither very senior nor star performers, but still critical to the organization’s future. These are the “hidden gems” who need to be uncovered and found – for which it there needs to be a system in place to do so.

In my previous company, the term “high value” employee included not only “high potential” employees (the equivalent of star performers) but also employees who were good mentors and who were technically excellent (as a technical service company, this was recognized as a key differentiator). Equally, other companies have adopted different methods to unearth their hidden gems or unsung heroes. Below is an example of a Risk Heat Map which was constructed when a European industrial company was going through a reorganization effort. They mapped the likelihood of a person leaving against the difficulty in replacing the person’s position and came up with surprising results identifying that close to 10% of their employees were high risk – and they were not necessarily the senior executives or the star performers.

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