The Pitfall of Talent Hoarding & How HR Can Help Refocus on Growth

September 2, 201911:01 am2774 views

Professional development and advancement are something that top-performers seek when pursuing a career. In fact, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company for this one reason, as reported by LinkedIn. Interestingly, the funny part is that employers want to retain top-performers but they fail to provide the right development – commonly known as talent hoarding.

What is talent hoarding?

Talent hoarding often occurs when companies keep the best employees in their current roles but don’t provide them with any advancement opportunities for career development. If not handled seriously, the pitfall of talent hoarding can affect business from up to its root. One obvious problem is that your business will suffer from increased turnover. There can also be internal problems among business units that will dramatically slow innovation.

See also: Employee Turnover: Understanding Why Top Talents are Leaving

An internationally known HR thought-leader, Dr John Sullivan commented that talent hoarding is hard to identify and is hidden as managers might not openly admit doing it. Only half of the managers admit that they are hoarding talents and keeping the best employees in their current roles, but unable to give clear career mobility. There is also a case where star employees are hidden behind bars of selfish bosses. 

So, how to tell that your employees are being hoarded?

The most effective way is by launching a survey asking when was the last time each of your top employees conducts a conversation about career growth with their manager. You might also need to self-reflect your organisation whether you have provided enough support on growth and development or not. If you catch employees stuck for some time and are unable to excel in their field of expertise, chances are, they are being hoarded by their bosses.

Further, HR leaders can help an organisation to prevent hoarding pitfall from happening by refocusing on growth. Here are ways HR leaders can refocus on development and emit hoarding all at once.


Do you know what is the result of your manager’s one-on-one meeting with his top performer? Generally, you will only get a biased perspective from the manager’s report without knowing what really happens during the meeting. What if the manager gives wrong advice that makes employees afraid of taking further steps in their career? Or what if the manager emphasises loyalty too much that hold the employee to take a higher step?

Hence, HR leader can overcome this by approaching co-workers, instead of the manager, and asking them to refer their fellow employees who have high potential. Then, talk to the potential talents about open internal jobs and whether they want to take the chance or not.


As a leader, you should not rely on a manager’s report only. Once in a while, you should check employees by yourself to know and identify if there is an underrating score given by managers because sometimes, managers might undersell their top talents to keep them longer. Over time, check your employees to see if they are ready or higher than normal to be promoted to the next level.

Unintentional hoarding

Managers might not promote the star talents due to the inability to assess employee’s potential rightly. Thus, HR can help managers to better identify and assess talents by providing wide talent assessment processes that are applied to all employees who have excellent performance. Alternatively, you can speed up internal movement by deciding when and what type of talents who are allowed to move on.

Read also: Talent Hoarding: The Responsible Culprit behind High Employee Turnover and Disengagement

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