Challenging Talent: how to act on people engagement


Attracting and retaining talent is at the top of the priority list for many senior managers. But how do you successfully get the right people onboard and ensure they remain engaged?

Attracting and retaining talent is at the top of the priority list for many senior managers.

But how do you successfully get the right people onboard and ensure they remain engaged?

It’s an issue our Challenging Talent white paper has explored in-depth and one we’ll be tackling in this blog.

Let’s start by examining attitudes towards staff turnover.

Our OnePoll survey of 500 UK-based senior decision makers found that on average turnover was around 16%.

More striking is the fact that 70% of companies are worried that turnover is too high yet less than half were actively doing something about it.

The link between engagement and retention

Engagement and retention are closely related. To succeed in both areas your business requires a well-developed strategy that’s at least on a par with your competitors

When asked why they think candidates turn down job offers, 33% of our survey respondents listed salary as the main reason.

But while salary is important, it’s not the silver bullet.

People will turn down job offers for many of the same reasons as the previous employee walked out the door.

These include: lack of flexibility, poor development opportunities and weak employer brand.

That’s backed up in part by the fact that a sizeable 39% of respondents answered their candidates ‘get offered better development opportunities elsewhere’.

And 45% stated that strong competition for talent means their candidates probably have several job offers to choose from.

To stand out from the crowd you need a talent strategy tuned to the needs of both existing employees and potential new recruits.

Rachael Allen, Head of People and Culture at BPS World commented: “Businesses are waking up to the importance of people engagement. The link with business performance is well proven and it clearly pays to be seen as a company that looks after its people. But generally, businesses are still not as progressive as they should be on this point and no one is getting it completely right.”

How to engage the talent of today

How should you engage the modern workforce?

We asked the experts.

Lizzie Mounty, HR Business Partner at M+W (a global leader in the design, engineering and construction of high-tech facilities and major complex projects) advised that they found engagement strategies needed to be tailored for the generations, as their concerns were so different: “Millennials are less interested in job security than the baby boomers. Instead they want to be able to see the opportunities that the job will offer them and a clear career path.”

So how else do you ensure your staff feel engaged?

Here are eight tips:

  1. Train all managers in people management. It’s not a job for amateurs.
  2. Set clear, timed and fair goals so that people can see when they’re delivering to your expectations.
  3. Create a learning culture and offer development opportunities, particularly those that give recognisable and transferrable qualifications.
  4. Provide communications channels so that people know that their opinion is valued and will be heard.
  5. Publicly recognise people for doing a good job. Tell them that they’re delivering the result you need. Ensure that the culture is such that others do the same. Focus on identifying solutions to any problems, rather than finding people to blame.
  6. Thank people for the work and effort that they put in.
  7. Don’t over-estimate the value of a ‘fun’ culture of ping pong tables and early finish Fridays. Providing these things is only one very small part of the puzzle and is not a substitute for everything else.
  8. Remember that employees have lives outside work. You should encourage a good work/life balance (it benefits the business beyond engagement). That doesn’t simply mean providing flexible and agile working options (whether or not they have children) but also understanding they have other commitments that are just as important to them as work.

We’ve learned that employers are concerned about high turnover rates yet not enough are taking active steps to deal with this.

Salary is only one pressing issue.

Those organisations that are prepared to work on getting employee engagement right will find it far easier to attract and retain the talent they need.

In summarising, BPS World Non-Executive Director and former Chief Executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, Kevin Green, said:

“People are now organisations’ wealth creators. It’s clear that competitive advantage over the next decade will be delivered by brands, relationships, design thinking and leveraging technology as well as using data to create customer insights. In short, it’s now all about competing via your people.”

Download the Challenging Talent white paper for more insight and practical recruitment solutions.

Or drop us a line at to start a conversation about your talent strategy.


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