Want to Attract and Retain Top Talent? Agile Leaders are Key.

Attracting and retaining top industry talent is both a priority and a challenge for businesses that strive for sustainable performance results. To be competitive, companies must position themselves as an employer of choice, a destination where best in the industry will not only contribute their skills, but also continue learning and growing – lest they seek greener pastures elsewhere. How can employers cultivate the type of workplace that will attract top talent and keep them around for the long run? Agile leaders are the key.

What Top Talent is Looking For

Talented people want more than a competitive salary and robust benefits; they want a place where they can feel good about their contributions to the company. They want challenges, an opportunity for growth, and to work in an environment that is positive and supportive. They desire a company with purpose. In their annual Pulse of Talent report, Ceridian partners with Nielsen to find out what roadblocks are preventing top talent from being acquired and what’s driving them to leave a company once hired. One of the most telling facts to come from the 2017 report is that nearly 40 percent of high performers are actively job hunting. Whether that’s good for your company (you’re hiring) or not so good (your talent is trying to leave) is up to you to evaluate.

From the 2018 report, among the top five reasons given for leaving a current employer are a lack of interesting work, no opportunities for growth and poor relationships with managers. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they were looking for a new position because they wanted to tackle new challenges; 32 percent reported changing jobs was necessary to advance their career. Salary is another top motivator, but one that’s easily resolved by employers committed to retaining the best in their industry.

Finding purpose played a major role in whether talented individuals chose to remain with their current employer or move on to another. Of those who said their company practices their stated values, 90 percent said they were satisfied with their current position. For those who said their companies did not practice stated values, only half were happy with their jobs. More telling is the fact that half of those surveyed could say they felt their work impacted business goals. Of those who could answer in the affirmative, 92 percent were satisfied with their job.

Once salary requirements are out of the way, the biggest roadblock to attracting and retaining top industry talent boils down to the culture of the workplace, and those who influence the culture the most are those in leadership positions.

How Agile Leaders Solve the Problem

Agility is defined as having the ability to move, think and understand quickly and easily – qualities that would be assets in just about any situation. Applied to leadership positions, agility describes those who develop healthy relationships, demonstrate an instinctive ability to coach others and bring a deep sense of integrity to a company. In other words, they hit all the points that talented individuals are looking for when selecting a position and deciding whether to stay there for the long run.

Let’s start with integrity, one of the most important qualities of an agile leader. Integrity demands that leaders operate with a commitment to a consistent ethical resolve, that office politics aren’t running the show and that responsibility for mistakes will be taken. For that 90 percent of employees surveyed above who were happy with their jobs and said their companies practiced what they preached, integrity is the core value that drives one to behave in accordance with his or her beliefs.

Next, there’s an instinct for coaching others, and with that, the innate desire to empower others while removing obstructions to their success. The ultimate goal for agile leaders is to advance others, not themselves, as agile leaders are keenly aware of the reflection upon themselves when their teams have a chance to shine. For those 39 percent of employees who want to change jobs in search of new challenges, their tenure at the company can be rescued by an agile leader who knows how to keep their teammates continuously learning, growing and advancing to new positions within the organization.

Then there’s relationship building, another core quality of agile leaders. Skilled relationship builders have the ability to influence their teams and not just lead but inspire others to follow. Agile leaders are naturally encouraging and compelling; they are a confidence catalyst for the hesitant and the uncertain. They are not in competition with their peers and subordinates; instead, they are driven to bring the entire organization to success together and motivate others to find joy in the accomplishments of their teammates. In short, agile leaders cultivate loyalty.

An Environment of Dedication

Leaders who demonstrate agility in their roles are adept at meeting business goals in their everyday tasks. But, more importantly, they create a workplace environment where people feel challenged and supported, where they are inspired to learn new things and share that knowledge with others. They cultivate satisfaction among individuals and demonstrate how to share in the achievements of the team. Agile leaders are the key to creating an environment where the best of the best not only stay on board but join in the quest for excellence for the entire organization.

Learn more about the qualities to look for and develop in your leadership team members by downloading our free white paper, The Six Qualities of Agile Leaders.