Article: March rings in madness for HR managers


March rings in madness for HR managers

Every year around bonus and increment time, business and HR managers start worrying about attrition of high potential talent
March rings in madness for HR managers

Watch for signs that someone is signing out. This gives you an opportunity to prepare


As Asia continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace, there is no shortage of takers for top quality talent. And as companies struggle globally with slowing growth and lack of internal opportunities, the growth paths are slower, less visible.

Often with millennials, engagement levels are perceived to be lower, with boredom and impatience looming large. Sometimes, a desire to move is about a bad boss, or an unattractive assignment. Occasionally a general dissatisfaction, and only the timing is governed by the bonus payouts. And of course, sometimes it is actually about the money.

So what should managers be doing to prepare for the disruptive exodus that they may get hit by?

Start well in advance. Before the bonus or increment announcements, prepare your workforce, start assessing and recalibrating expectations. Share company performance data and use the performance management system to give feedback to individuals. Ensure that there is a reasonable amount of clarity in variable pay norms. Assess what the competition is likely to be doing – gather data points, mark to market.

At the same time, watch for the signs that someone is signing out. Usually engagement levels drop, unexpected half day leaves, increased activity on LinkedIn, furtive phone calls in empty conference rooms. This gives you an opportunity to prepare.

Anticipate and be tactical. Should you have a limited pool, think through whether you would like to use the pool to ring-fence high performers or spread the rewards in a more socially equitable way. Is your Performance Management System robust enough to support discrimination? How can this be positioned? What are the likely outcomes? Are you using all the tools you have – rewards can often as much about recognition or visible perquisites?

After the announcement, step up the engagement. One on one if possible, reinforce the compensation philosophy, listen, allow people to vent. If someone quits, don’t close the door, engage in a dialogue. Ask what would make them stay, particularly non-monetary rewards. Flexi time? A department change? Chance to work on a new project? A nicer car? A designation change? I’m not suggesting that you submit to blackmail, but at least attempt to examine root causes, so that you have a shot at retaining them without busting your budget.

Have a Plan B. Work through what might happen, who could step into which roles from within, which jobs would need to be filled from outside, what roles and structures could be tweaked. Estimate replacement costs. Assess where talent lies, internally and externally. Perhaps, engage a search firm to conduct a market mapping exercise as a precursor to a search, so you have a four-week headstart on a replacement.

In the longer term, retention strategies don’t differ much – whether it is March or mid-year. Is your company a great place to work? If there is a crisis, is there leadership? Do people enjoy working for you? Is there visibility in career paths? Do people know the specifics of achievement and activity required to progress up the ladder?

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Topics: Culture, Strategic HR, Employee Engagement

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