8 things to consider to develop and retain talent in your business | EEF

8 things to consider to develop and retain talent in your business

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Developing and retaining talent is increasingly an issue for manufacturers and other organisations, because of the link this has to improving productivity. Here are 8 key things to consider when taking on the challenge of developing your workplace talent and retaining that talent for the future.

By: Paul Sugarman, EEF Senior Learning and Development consultant



The productivity challenge faced by manufacturers (and numerous other businesses in different sectors) continues to be a major point of concern, and finding ways of improving levels of productivity is a key goal for team leaders and managers.

While there isn’t a secret recipe for overnight increased productivity, our Productivity Report shows that businesses that have invested in developing their workplace talent, saw a related productivity boost. This explains why, according to the EEF Skills Report 2016, a change in organisational structure and the need to improve productivity has led to a surge in demand for people management (59%) and leadership skills (59%). Our HR Barometer meanwhile also highlighted that 11% of respondents were keen to develop future leaders.

Our Skills Report however also found that manufacturers are struggling to recruit, retrain and develop people management and leadership skills in their businesses. So what should managers and leaders consider when focusing on developing and retaining their talent?

  1. Development doesn’t always equal training - There are other ways of developing people that are not restricted to training. Look for opportunities that challenge individuals, such as getting them to represent you (as their manager) at meetings or in project teams/environments. Having them shadow a member of another team and see what they do can also help them develop, or even working with a senior manager to see what they do in a more strategic role.

  2. Delegate work that leads to “job enrichment” not just “job enlargement” – Delegating tasks to your team is an important part of being a leader and a manager, but developing their skills means ensuring that you are delegating worthwhile tasks not just boring stuff that you don’t want to do. Don’t overburden people but also don’t let the fact that you’re making busy people busier stop you from delegating. And demonstrate genuine trust in them by giving them room to make decisions.

  3. Keep an eye out for sideways role changes – Is there potential for employees to move roles within the business that would broaden their knowledge and experience? If the business is multi-site and/or multi-national, look for moves around the country or even around the world.

  4. Use appraisals/PDRs to establish people’s desire to learn and develop – Knowing first-hand what an employee wants to achieve in their professional life is important to help them develop. Find out what they desire to develop further and then try match that desire as best you can. Not everyone has massive immediate aspirations to be the next CEO – some people are happy to move onwards more slowly. Consider developing a succession plan and link that to any training plans that exist. Also link any training plans to the larger business plan so that training budgets are justified and supported from the top.

  5. Listen to your people when they have ideas for improvement - It’s very rewarding when people see their own ideas being implemented by the business they work in. These don’t have to be huge things, they could just be lots of smaller ideas that take away day-to-day niggles.

  6. Praise and encourage people - Give rewards if you can. Offer incentives. It’s very easy to simply expect good work from employees when they are consistently delivering well. But eventually you will either depress these people or annoy them to the point that they leave if you fail to recognise their good work. Be specific in the praise you give so people know that what they have done has been seen. Make people feel valued.


  7. Offer the right benefits package appropriate to the market – A suitable benefits package not only helps improve loyalty to the business, but can also help employees feel valued. EEF can help you benchmark what benefits are fair and appropriate.

  8. Conduct exit interviews and learn from them – Exit interviews are important to help you understand what could be done differently in the future. But also consider conducting “stay” interviews to help understand why your people are happy to remain. What are you doing well and what could be even better?

At EEF we’re passionate about developing people and their skills and our range of professional management and leadership training can help you and your team achieve excellence. Watch our video to find out more about the benefits of accredited training with EEF.

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