According to the CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning survey, top talent is staying put. Under these circumstances, it would be very easy for HR to sit on our laurels and assume that we need do nothing. For two reasons, this would be a huge mistake. First, we could miss the opportunity to attract the best individuals away from our competitors. Second, as green shoots continue to appear in the UK economy, experience shows us that the most talented people will be the first to look out the window. The people we can least afford to lose will be the first to disappear.

But evidence shows us that those organisations that are best at retaining and attracting talent have three habits in common:

They develop people through self-managed teams

The global power company, AES, has taken this to heart.  The $404 million Maryland Project was led by a mechanical engineer without an MBA and the financing of $350 million in Northern Ireland was managed by a team led by two control room operators.  At AES, supervisors are taught to give away their power and to become servant leaders.  The result is a company where people stay even when they can afford to leave and a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent that has produced remarkable financial results.

They treat people as though they make a difference

SAS, the analytics software company achieved its 37th year of record revenue (up 4.2%) in 2012. Why? In the current climate, they take care of people and lavish the benefits: on-site medical care, including psychiatrists, dieticians and physical therapists; on-site preschool and day care; paternity leave, summer camp, car detailing, nail salons, racquet stringing, dry cleaning, a swimming pool. It offers lessons in billiards, golf, ultimate Frisbee, tennis and dodgeball. The added cost for these programs are made up for in savings in recruitment: SAS boasts one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry: 3.3% versus the industry norm of 22%.

They focus on the process not the outcome

What’s the best way of building employee and customer retention? Southwest Airlines did not begin with an objective to build a company that is worth more than the rest of the US airline industry combined.  It began with a value of taking care of its people and its customers, and the rest followed as a consequence.

Being able to attract the best individuals and develop those already in our organisations will always be an imperative for success. It’s worth taking the time to fully recognise this and ensure that we have the right approaches in place.