If you are an employer from the Food & Beverage, Retail, Food Manufacturing or Logistics industries in Singapore, you’re probably busy planning how to meaningfully use the $15,000 (per apprentice) offered to you by the Singapore government as part of the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme where, beginning April 2015, fresh polytechnic or ITE graduates will be matched to employers for a 12-18 month apprenticeship programme to work and train towards an industry-recognised certification.
Now that it seems that a big part of your talent management challenge – recruitment – is being solved, you ought to give a sigh of relief. Yet, some of you are still troubled. As reported in TODAY, companies that are benefitting from the Earn and Learn programme like Robinsons and RSH Group of Companies, and The Soup Spoon, surfaced a nagging worry, a common worry shared by many employers out there:
No doubt, talent management is a top worry among employers. In today’s tight labour market in Singapore – with relatively low unemployment rates and unfavourable conditions for hiring from overseas – recruiting young talent is already a challenge, let alone retaining it. It is widely accepted that the millennial workforce comes with a different expectation from Gen X and Baby Boomers (most of whom make up the employers) when it comes to jobs – they have different worldviews, aspirations, and attitudes towards work and life and work-life balance. When it comes to retaining talent, a good pay package with benefits is important, but no longer does the trick.
With all these excitement about developing the skills of polytechnic and ITE graduate in the air, it is natural that your focus would be on ensuring your training plan addresses their needs, expectations, and aspirations. But before you get too busy spinning your world around the new entrants, it’s perhaps timely to zoom out to the bigger picture and look at three aspects of your organisation that form the greater ecosystem for talent management. Even if you are not benefitting from the Earn and Learn scheme, it’s a useful reflection all the same. They just may help you keep your millennial apprentice – and other talents – within your organisation for longer:
The Abasyn Journal of Social Sciences published a research involving some 266 employees showing the strong link between good company image and talent retention – the better the company image and reputation, the more likely talent is retained. Pay attention to your company’s reputation and image. What are people saying about you on social media and off-line (including word-of-mouth)? It’s not what you say about yourself that matters, but what others say about you that does. Of course, you can’t tell people what kind of impression they should have of you. You can only do, and let your employees do the talking. So to build a positive corporate image, you need to work it from inside out, and to do so, you need to build a strong culture and climate that is real and unique to your organisation.
The climate within your company is like the atmosphere in which employees breathe in. Defining this climate allows clarity for new hires and experienced staff members to integrate and work alongside productively. Is your company’s climate casual or corporate, or somewhere in between? How do your employees behave and work with each other, as well as how do they deal with partners customers, vendors and suppliers? The climate is in part shaped by your company values. What are your values? Are your values well explained and tied to a set of behaviours expected of your employees? These set of acceptable (or expected) behaviours are sometimes called Team Norms. Having Team Norms allow you to generate a positive workplace climate and culture. Take a look at Fortune’s list of great places for Millennials to work to get some inspiration of how companies like Google use culture as a strategic differentiator. And no, you don’t need to be a Google, but you need a strong corporate culture that is aligned from top down, and from inside to out. And be authentic.
More than just the cursory annual employee satisfaction survey, companies that invest time and effort on staff engagement generally do better with their bottomline (not to mention a positive rub-off on company image as happy employees tend to say nice things about their companies). Forbes published an article citing more than 28 research studies proving the benefits of employee engagement and a strong correlation with good performance in service, sales, quality, safety and – you guessed it – retention. What are you doing in the area of overall staff engagement? Are your staff members equally engaged, or are you only choosing to engage those you earmarked for higher calling? What kind of picture does your engagement plan paint for everyone in the company? Hint: everyone wants to be treated like they are special.
Talent retention is part of the bigger ecosystem of talent management. To solve the challenge of talent management, it takes more than a one-sided solution, but a holistic approach. Hopefully, employers are enlightened to see the bigger picture, and realise the first step to solving talent management challenges begins with themselves.
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