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Talent retention: Insight from big name brands

Triana Jarman
As Sift Talent continue their expert series of interviews with senior leaders from some of the UK’s largest brands, we examine the key themes which repeatedly cropped up in each session. This unique insight comes from organisations including SuperGroup, IBM, Poundland and LB Group amongst others. The high-profile interviews – a popular ongoing series of from Sift’s talent specialists  –  take a look at some of the most important business issues and investigate the approach taken by proven business experts.
 
The acquiring and retaining of talent is one of the greatest challenges for many of today’s employers, and for good reason – in many industries talent is in short supply but in high demand. So how do the UK’s leading organisations manage this problem and what is the key to attracting and retain such highly valued employees? In this post we collate a number of the most valuable responses from the Sift Talent sessions.
 
The interviewees were asked, “How do you attract and manage talent?”
 
Jim McCarthy, CEO of Poundland
Poundland has 95% brand recognition and due to that success it has become easier to recruit and retain talented colleagues. 
 
As a public company we have put in place a number of new share schemes and believe they are attractive to existing colleagues and new ones. We absolutely recognise it as important to retain those star colleagues that have made this business what is it today, and to motivate them even more going forward. It’s very much a team based business.
 
Stuart Sheldrick, Director, LB Group
It’s a topical one as I’m looking to try and find my number two in this office. Our location can make it hard to attract – we’re half an hour from London Liverpool Street so you have the draws of London so potentially I could be competing with top 20 firms. Where possible we try to make the remuneration packages as flexible as possible when we are trying to compete with those firms. We may not be able to compete at the same levels. Traditionally it’s a flat salary in our industry so we’re trying to offer more flexibility to attract those people. 
 
One of the things we have always tried to do is to build from the bottom up. To get staff in at graduate or A level and bring those people through the ranks and hopefully retain those people. Hopefully we have got good staff that we have taught and moulded into the candidates that we want. 
 
As part of that it’s managing those good people and putting structures in place. We have an external consultant who comes in and helps us to manage and monitor who we see as key members of staff. We identity who we see as key members of staff and try to nurture their progression so they have a defined path. We are always looking for that succession, it has to be a constantly growing process. If you don’t have that at some point you are going to stop.  I am the succession of the senior partners.  Who is behind me knocking on my door? 
 
Michelle Trinder, Global Recruitment Account Manager, IBM
Ensuring  the best possible career opportunities is by far the best way to ensure our talent stays motivated and attracted to the organisation. IBM has many retention tools in place and we've recently used our own predictive analytics tools to pilot and proactively assess where retention risks are likely to lie, giving us the opportunity to address potential flight risks prior to attrition occurring. This has proved very successful and we are extending usage to other markets & skill sets.
 
Susan Given, COO of SuperGroup
The management team has different skills but what we share are strong personalities and credibility. James Holder [Brand and Design Director] and Julian Dunkerton [CEO] have the passion and are the heart of the business. We recruit people around passion and with a fast growth, young business with no cash constraints that’s a compelling story and opportunity. 
 
 
So being a recognisable brand is a good draw for top talent, but it seems there’s a lot more to it – there needs to be a well considered talent management plan in place. Some organisations integrate financial rewards or flexible working conditions as part of such a plan.  Others feel they are able to retain talent by retaining key employees through more organic means; by building the talent from ‘within’ (from the ground up) or by offering diversified opportunities and presenting the most appealing career pathways. 
 
Whether talent is managed by the use of external consultants or a more rigid structure of progression (or whether businesses simply rely on the passion that they, and therefore their employees, have for the business) it is apparent that the most successful organisations are those which have a defined strategy in place – even if it’s very much an ongoing process.
 
 
To read the Sift Talent interviews in full visit their blogs pages