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Communications of the ACM

ACM CareerNews

Keeping Top Talent in a Down Economy

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Now that the economy appears to be in recovery, organizations should be considering ways to retain their top talent and encourage their highest-potential employees to perform at consistently high levels. Sylvia Ann Hewlett has been exploring the wide range of tools and techniques available to employers struggling with both how to motivate and keep the loyalty of workers and managers. In 2009, she partnered with Booz & Company on helping organizations leverage top talent across the divides of culture, gender and generation. Hewlett discusses what it takes to keep top talent happy today and why so many workers are feeling disengaged. Whether it's offering time away from the office or offering new forms of recognition, it's clear that organizations will be experimenting with a wide range of new motivational tools in 2010.

As Hewlett explains, the current economic environment has created a situation where top performers do not always feel valued. Even with the unemployment rate at 10 percent or higher, organizations can not expect their best people to deliver 110 percent effort day in day out. Doing so creates a lot of alienation, a lot of disengagement. By some estimates, 50 percent of the workforce is spending more than half of its time looking for their next job. This flight risk, as well as the productivity losses, happens because bosses are out of touch with how their workers think and feel. The loyalty rate among star performers has now plunged from over 90 percent to about 53 percent. At the same time, only about 10-20 percent of people in any organization are fully engaged.

From Management-Issues
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