Retention Attention: How to Protect Your Perfect Hire and Talent Investment

Imagine your team gets the green-light to hire that business-critical headcount. You craft the ideal job description in hopes of finding that “perfect hire.” You take your time to assemble those hard-to-find-must-have-qualifications. Weeks pass, not one single standout resume crosses your desk. You loosen up on the must-have’s and add a few nice-to-have’s. You start to believe it might be easier to find a unicorn in the wild.  

Yet, despite the crazy, fairy tale notions your organization has, you miraculously find the perfect person for the job.  The process took much longer than you expected (and frankly, wanted) and now you can get excited about reaping the benefits of having their unique skillset in-house.

Fast forward eight months, your “unicorn” gives their notice. “I am truly sorry, I just felt that my talents were being wasted here.  I spend more than 75% of my time gathering data vs. using it.   I found a better opportunity, one that will utilize my skillsets from day one,” they say. Talk about a huge let down, all that time and effort searching and in a flash, they are gone!

You give yourself the proverbial 24-hour self-pity timeout and you find yourself asking the same series of questions everyone does:

  • Was it our culture?
  • Did we not pay enough? Were our benefits lackluster?
  • Was it something I said?

I hate to tell you, but you’re assuming the wrong suspects. Notice the language again:

"I Found a BETTER opportunity that will utilize my skillsets from day one."

Translated: your organization didn’t even remotely tap into their value-add (that which, to reiterate, took months to find).  You didn’t protect your talent investment. But what could we have done differently? What drove them to seek opportunities elsewhere?

The Rising Cost for Talent

In today’s business landscape, the competition for talent is at an all-time high. Consider these startling statistics:

You don’t need to be in Finance to understand statistics like these: you need to spend a lot of money to find and hire talent. But what happens when they get in the door?

The Day in the Life of Your Employees

As you climb the corporate ladder, you sometimes forget the daily experience of those further down. For example, as finance professionals, we all know the processes that come with the close, budget, reporting and forecasting cycles…and we know that running reports isn’t as seamless as it seems. Not having access to the right data. Not being able to model your business forecasts. Not having time to make the financial space for business activity. Often, the financial applications that should make life easier do the exact opposite.

This is where you need to be looking: outdated processes and their supporting financial applications are driving talent away.

“My skills weren’t utilized,” means your perfect hire spent too much time manually supporting cumbersome systems and antiquated processes and those inefficient processes focused their priorities on work you didn’t hire them to do! You couldn’t reap the benefits of their mind, business acumen, or experience – which was frustrating to all involved.

Protect Your Talent Investment

Quality of life matters in a job. Research shows that millennials are desperate to make an impact at their jobs and they will avoid jobs where systems impede their ability to thrive. They are hungry to show their skills and advance their careers.

Here are some ways you can protect your talent investment:

Do an accurate skills and tools assessment. If every year you hear the same “we’ll invest next year” or the hasty “this will work for now” decisions, they are probably hurting you and your team. What do you have in place now? Does it provide you with access to accurate and efficient data? Keep in mind, you may be overengineering what you already have so before you invest, see if simplifying helps.

Before you write the job description, do the job. This is a no brainer. As you do a skills assessment, experience what it’s like to run a simple report, run a forecast or close the books.  Have other business partners (like your friends in IT) also do the same. Extra eyes may help you see where the gaps are and what employees are experiencing.

Empower your employees. The easiest way to demotivate someone? “Oh, we’ve had that problem for years. Sorry, it’s just not a priority.” No one wants to work in an environment where there’s an existing problem that no one is addressing. True leaders and managers will actively work on solving problems and prevent inefficiencies. If an employee speaks up about something that stops them from using their talents, it should be a high priority to fix it.

Remember, you need to reshape the way you think about the tools you are providing your teams to be successful. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they have what they need to apply their unique skillsets to hit it out of the park?
  • Have you been successful at rebalancing the unbalanced percentage of time spent on data gathering vs. data analyzing?
  • Have you provided them with the best technical landscape you can?

The right systems are just as important as the right person.


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