How do you create a culture that retains the talented?

This article is part of
Guide to succession planning

How do you create a culture that retains the talented?

The number one rule - if you are to retain and create talent - is to remember your staff are human beings, says Helen Floor.  

The founder and managing director of 1-1 Recruitment in Hampshire.urges employers to “connect with people as individuals”. She adds: “You need to remember staff of all levels are complex and sometimes bring their lives to work with them. 

We live in challenging times where people have to work hard but rightly expect to be treated well in return. 

Ms Floor says: "Employers need to reward and recognise people as individuals. Sometimes this can be as simple as remembering birthdays, providing regular opportunities to socialise and ensuring there are opportunities for training and progression – all things that any reasonable person would want from a job.”

Good and regular communication with employees is crucial, and that should happen both formally and informally. 

Benchmarking your own talent against the broader market can help to ensure your staff are on competitive packages. But it is also important to have a culture that allows people to experiment, grab hold of challenges if they want to and, potentially, recognise and reward people for what they do outside of their core remit. 

Ms Floor adds: "We want to encourage creative thinking and part of that is about ensuring your culture is not one that dulls ambition through fear."

People in an organisation soon learn how that organisation responds to people who want to progress. Though a company may make a lot of noise about its people policies which can be very impressive on paper, in reality it is the behaviours that get noticed – how managers really respond to ambition and talent.

“As leaders, business owners also have a responsibility to ensure they understand what each new generation wants out of life,” explains Ms Floor.


According to Ms Floor, advisers need to be proactive about and work to understand this, because it’s a real phenomenon that, say, millennials aren’t necessarily looking for exactly the same qualities from a job that the previous generation was at that age.

Ms Floor explains: "My company uses Foresight (formerly the Future Foundation) to “stay connected” – it’s something that’s really important to us and we cannot sit still.”

“I also like to understand my employees as individuals and get to know them. Obviously there are boundaries that must be respected but I believe a little goes a long way when it comes to knowing your people.

"So many job offers are turned down, and so many people leave an employer because of a changes in their personal circumstances. To retain talent you need to recognise that people are human beings.

"If a business knows that a member of its team is experiencing challenging circumstances, why shouldn’t it do all it can to be flexible and work around those circumstances? Not only does that approach prevent costly talent churn and “brain drain” but it also sends a very powerful message to employees."