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You never miss the water until the well runs dry

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Attracting and retaining top talent in an organisation is never an easy task. In fact, talent management is one of the biggest challenges facing companies, as it is suggested that only 3-5% of employees within an organisation can be classified as top talent. Therefore, one may expect companies to compete for top talent as they do for customers, by employing the employer branding strategies, which ensure talented and progressive individuals are attracted to, and not repulsed by their organisations. However, this appears not to be the case in St. Vincent. Over the years it appears that some managers seem to interpret the large volume of applicants for an advertised position, as each employee is easily replaceable. This misguided misinterpretation has resulted in brain drain, mistreatment of workers and the implementation of Human Resource Management strategies that often work against the organisation’s ability to retain top talent.

One such strategy is the employment of highly qualified and driven individuals on 10 months contracts. These individuals are expected to work on two consecutive contracts before they are eligible to make a request for a permanent position. Such a strategy is ludicrous and any management professional who believes that the organisation will attract and retain highly qualified and driven individuals in that way is being absurd. Talented individuals are attracted to stability and the building of long term careers.

It is sad that in an effort to retain employees, some managers have reverted to devaluation and intimidation. One manager ventured to tell an employee, “we can only offer you a permanent position if you can guarantee that if you are presented with a better offer you are not going to leave us”.

Some of our local management professionals clearly have their wires crossed. These attempts to take advantage of the high unemployment rate in St. Vincent, through the use of manipulation and questionable strategies, raises a red flag over these organisations and cause talented individuals on the outside to run in the opposite direction, and talented individuals on the inside to ‘head’ for the nearest exit.

Highly qualified human capital adds value to an organisation, reduces training cost and enhances organisational performance. However, it is unfortunate that many managers only realise this after they have lost the employees. As the adage goes, ‘You never miss the water until the well runs dry’.

Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at [email protected]