Avoiding The Talent Shortage

Regular readers of Supply Excellence will recall Tim Minahan’s recent post New Supply Risk: Losing Your Top Talent where he noted that talent poaching has reached new heights in the supply management arena and pointed out a new study from Denali Consulting and SupplyStaff that examined the labour challenge of how to retain your best people.

The Denali study reported that the typical company experiences a nearly 40% voluntary turnover rate by employees. It also reported that a good salary is often the top indicator of employee retention. Neither of these results should be startling when you consider the recent articles on the European Leaders Network and SupplyManagement.com that highlighted the Increased Competition for Procurement Professionals and that Interims Cash in on Demand Boost, with top-skilled individuals easily able to command $1000/day, or more.

Fortunately, management approach and work environment also affect employee retention, with top performers preferring a work environment that continually challenges them, provides a clear career path, and autonomy. The study, as Tim Minahan pointed out, highlights the following secrets:

  • Keep the work challenging
  • Nurture highly skilled candidates
  • Encourage and support a work-life balance
  • Deploy Mentoring programs to encourage advancement

An article in the summer issue of CPO Agenda also took up the issue of how to retain your best people. The article, by Sharon Jordan-Evans of the Jordan Evans Group, offers three additional suggestions.

  • Conduct a ‘stay’ interview
    Instead of guessing, find out what your staff really want. Ask meaningful questions such as: Are you challenged in your day-to-day work? What would provide more interest? What could I do more/less of? What will keep you here? What might entice you away? What do you want to learn this year?
  • Give them some space
    Provide the freedom that allows people to get the job done in ways that work best for them. Telecommuting, flexible work schedules, casual dress, etc.
  • Mine for Opportunities Link arms with your best people to mine for the next opportunity. They might enjoy heading a new project or spend category (marketing or legal services, for instance). Let them touch the end customer or build relations with a key internal stakeholder. Rotate assignments to deepen or broaden their skills. Support their investigation of new supply markets.

And, finally, even though you might not always be able to compete on salary, remember that there’s nothing to stop you from competing on performance-based incentives. After all, when every dollar of bonus they get is the result of tens of dollars of captured savings to you, it’s a win-win situation. (If you’re having trouble measuring savings, I would suggest you start with my Cost-Reduction and Avoidance write-ups {Introduction, Metrics, and Incentivize for Success!} over on e-Sourcing Forum.)