Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Pay Attention to Retention: Marketing to Attract the Talent is Only the First Step to a Strong Workforce

Previously on this blog, we’ve discussed the role of branding in recruiting top talent. Last week, we heard some things that spurred us to revisit the topic.

At a Future 50 Forum—sponsored by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and its Council of Small Business Executives—leaders of some of the region’s fastest growing companies talked about their biggest challenges in today’s and tomorrow’s economy.

Time and again, manufacturing executives and professional services presidents alike cited recruiting and retaining skilled workers as a major worry on their minds. This issue is likely to weigh heavier as more and more Baby Boomers punch out of the workaday pattern. (For further study, there’s a cottage industry of books on this topic.)

Often, “recruitment and retention” get lumped together as one initiative. They’re certainly related and overlapping. But it might be time to think of them as distinct challenges—recruiting as more of an external branding exercise, and retaining as more of an internal communications and cultural issue.

As the Baby Boomers retire, the open jobs they leave behind will seduce many a young, talented worker. Retaining those people in your organization will be just as critical as luring others away from your competitors. To keep the right people on board, you had better pay attention to them.

Do your employees see that your company is headed in a strong, strategic direction? Do they know what they need to do to support the mission? Do they grasp the challenges of the marketplace? Do they understand the strategy behind the moves you’re making? Do they know what’s in it for them? Strategic internal communications help ensure that your employees know the score.

In a future post, we'll talk more about strategic internal communications, including some of the tactics you can use to help build a culture that appeals to your most important people. The more confident your top employees are that your company is making strategic moves that ultimately benefit them, the more they’re reassured about their professional and financial future working for your company. And the more likely they are to stick around.

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