Retaining Talent (Featured On The Straits Times – 15 March 2018)




Organizations struggle with the concept of talent retention. Often, activities held to engage their staff are just done so that they can be ticked off a checklist. Such activities lack purpose so they do not work. Therefore, an organization must change its perspective and strategy to improve and make an impact.

It is not just about attracting and engaging talents, but also retaining them. And if they have already left the organization, how can they be drawn to return to?

Holding a career conversation is a practical move that can help.


A career conversation is highly useful, especially today, when technology disruption is everywhere.

This enables people to be aware of new trends and opportunities and focus on the new skills and abilities required. Instead of waiting for things to happen, employees are more motivated to act on what’s required to get the ball rolling.

Career conversation is about exploring the various possibilities of an individual’s growth with the company. it does not necessarily lead to a promotion or increment. Instead, it explores an individual’s personal growth in term of his abilities, so that he is ready when opportunities come along.


Employees are looking for place where they can develop various aspects of their capabilities, and not just to work.

So your organisation will have a higher chance of drawing interest if it is one where leaders watch out for their people by giving them opportunities to grow and stretch their capabilities.

Businesses can go for short-cuts by using compensation and benefits to attract people. But they are likely to lose staff more quickly than they can attract interested candidates because the proposition is not sustainable, and the talents are smarter than that.

After all, why should talents invest their energy in a company where there is no effort invested in their personal growth?


Many so-called engagements come and go, never fully living up to expectation because they are all short-term.

Real engagement is a way of living. Any engagement that does not embed itself into an organisation is just an intervention, and lead to failure.

Career conversation makes perfect sense because it addresses what is practical to an employee – their career growth.

The company may not be able to promise a promotion and increment, but it can develop their employees by offering them multiple opportunities that benefit the bottom line and effectively enable engagement to take place.


A company may lose a talented person without even knowing the real reason because the person did not have a chance to showcase his ability or was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

By having a career conversation, a company can position itself as a place of possibilities and growth.

Even if a talent decides to leave such a company today, there is a possibility that that he may return in future because he understands that its leaders believe in taking a vested interest in engaging their staff.

Now, the question is whether your organisation is place of growth.