Attracting and Retaining Talent: The Chestnut that Remains Un-cracked – Or is it?

Posted in : HR Updates on 1 March 2018
Louise Gault
Think People Consulting
Issues covered:

How organisations attract and retain talent is the hot topic that never seems to cool. There are a number of influencing factors in our lives in respect of our employment, some that employers can control and others they cannot. One key factor they cannot influence (in the most part) is the desire to experience other countries and cultures. Pull factors that encourage migration include opportunities to get a better job and develop their skills and languages. In terms of push factors, scope for career advancement, or the lack thereof, is a key reason to make the move. Factors that organisations can control are the experiences of staff in their organisation. The question now is, what should you consider for your organisation?

Attraction and Retention Strategies


The laws of attraction state that opposites attract. In the working environment there needs to be diversity, and by diversity I mean in its broadest sense… for example, diversity of personalities, skill-sets and abilities. Therefore, when planning your approach to recruitment, as well as attracting and assessing the right skills and abilities for the role, understanding the motivations and traits of an individual will allow you to assess and consider their ‘fit’ for any particular role within your organisation.

Selection Testing

Psychometric testing, both ability and personality, can therefore add great value to your recruitment process. Traditionally, the incorporation of ability tests often focused on general competence areas of, for example, numerical, verbal, abstract reasoning etc. However, test providers have adapted to the many new ways of working, and can now provide really niche ability testing on areas such as IT Technical Helpdesk skills to Contact Centre Retention skills. These developments have allowed for increased specificity in testing, along with the benefit of having undergone rigorous validity and reliability testing.

As highlighted above, ‘personality’ testing is concerned with a candidate’s underlying motivations and traits. Therefore, an important point to remember is that in contrast to ability testing, personality testing will not provide you with a set of right and wrong answers from each candidate, to contrast with each other. Rather, it will provide you with an insight into preferred ways of working, or certain scenarios under which a candidate may feel more pressurised, allowing you to explore these in a meaningful way at interview. The inclusion of tests, should of course not be embarked upon without knowing exactly why, how and when they will be used in the process, and duly informing the candidate of this will directly impact their recruitment experience, and their perceptions of your organisation. Providing clear instructions, offering guidance on practice tests and the provision of feedback are all important considerations when deciding to include testing in your selection processes.

Having a competitive remuneration package is still an important factor to consider. Undertaking salary and benefit benchmarking and regular job evaluations will help to ensure your offerings are attractive in your market sector and region.


The Times 100 Companies were announced on 23 February 2018. On review of the Top 5 the themes or language used to describe what employees valued in their employer were:

  • Innovative engagement
  • Sincerity from managers
  • Company values, lived and experienced
  • Clear purpose
  • Staff development, clear career paths
  • Social conscience/responsibility

It is clear to see that what engages employees stretches far beyond remuneration and the traditional view of benefits.  In a report issued this week by Oxford Economics, it was stated that it costs approximately £30,000 to replace a member of staff when viewed from the need to recruit and the costs and time associated with that, to having a member of staff on-boarded, a settling in phase and reaching their ‘Optimum Productivity Level’ which this report states is, on average, 28 weeks. It is therefore financially beneficial for organisations to understand why employees leave as well as stay, and what they can be doing better.

More and more emphasis is being placed on career plans/pathways, wellbeing and leadership are key areas for organisations to be mindful of. Organisations are investing and targeting development and delivery of pathway training programmes to develop their workforce to ensure that career journeys, skills development and purpose are clear to staff (appeal to the head). Employees want to feel a connection to their job – a reason to get up and perform – a purpose. If you can engage at an emotional level: be it through pride, alignment of personal and organisational purpose, sense of fulfilment or sense of connection to what they deliver, people are likely to be more satisfied at work (appeal to the heart).

Kainos, with a strong representation here in Belfast, have received the incredible recognition of being listed as a Top 100 Company to Work for 2018 in the Times List for the 6th year – what an achievement. Responses to the survey assessment for the competition obtained responses such as: 83% of employees are proud to work for Kainos, 81% look up to their leaders and 83% rate their training and development. Kainos are tapping into the head and the heart. The head: excellent organisation, excellent opportunities, excellent development of staff, and the heart: purpose and pride! 100 per cent of respondents stated they loved changing the way the world lives and works. Think People are immensely proud to work in partnership with Kainos delivering management development programmes to help Kainos and their staff unlock their potential.

As a consultancy with a special team working with clients on Organisation and Leadership Development we have seen a marked increase in clients, new and old, focusing their attention to developing their staff beyond the technical skills and investing in development programmes. Organisations are now looking to invest in their people to develop a stronger people proposition, clear talent and career pathways and thinking beyond the skills to perform the technical elements of their roles. One way to benchmark the impact development programme and career pathways benefit organisations is through the use of engagement surveys. This can document quantifiable evidence to the outcome of investment made by organisations in their people’s development.

Organisations need to understand for themselves what they want to be known for from a people perspective. Once that is understood they need to know how to bring that to reality, and consider how they attract and retain the right people to deliver that vision. It is a strategy that is worth the time and commitment to get right, the future and reputation of your organisation depends on it.

This article is correct at 01/03/2018

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Louise Gault
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Louise Gault. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email

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