It is stating the obvious to say that organisations need to have a competitive edge in order to survive. A key feature of strategies to attain this however, should include talent management; attracting and retaining employees who add value to the organisation.

The techno logical side of organisations is a tangible area of change as new software, hardware, machinery etc. is developed to enhance processes. Less obvious is recognition of the need to ensure that human and social aspects within an organisation move forward and change too, as best practice businesses strive to become an ‘employer of choice.’

A key starting point for this is human resource planning; gathering data that informs about issues such as skills needed within the organisation to meet objectives, the gaps in those skills and retirement rates. But these points focus on the quantitative data whilst of equal importance is the qualitative data relating to social elements such as people’s ambitions and preferences in their careers. A best practice talent management programme takes account of the needs of both the organisation and the individuals within it.

This can be achieved through performance and career management processes and discussions and should encompass succession planning so that there is a continuous process of identifying and nurturing talent in a way that ensures a legacy to take the business forward.

These processes should also include identifying knowledge and skills gaps and planning, with the input of the employee, how these will be met through learning and development interventions. Attention ought to be paid to supporting the employee in being more productive in their current role but also to develop their potential in line with their aspirations and the organisation’s needs.

This leads me onto the importance of learning and development – a vital element of talent management and one which is often the first to be reduced in times of austerity. But without interventions such as coaching and skills development, employees and organisations alike with be challenged to cope with the ever changing nature of the workplace and its external environment.

Processes and policies within organisations need to be in place to support talent management and retention strategies. Recruitment and selection for example, needs to follow robust procedures to eliminate discrimination and measure applicants against job requirements for skills and knowledge so that the selection process identifies the best person for the role.

If employers are to gain competitive advantage, appropriate reward strategies are also a vital element of talent management and retention. Having an overall strategy in place, rather than just thinking about pay structures and rates enables a holistic approach to reward throughout an employee’s career. A sound strategy can be a good selling point for attracting talent into the organisation and then a means of bringing about commitment to the brand and business goals and objectives.

Policies and procedures are also needed to ensure that employment practices are fair and equitable and that both parties to the employment relationship are clear about expectations and what can be done when those expectations are not met.

In summary then, talent management and retention strategies need to be holistic and need to encompass all people-related activity within the organisation, with HR playing a key role at the forefront of any initiative.

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