At Work

Attract and retain top talent

As the competition for talent picks up, forward-thinking managers need to assess how they are positioned to keep their good people and attract some more.

Get the basics right

People who have choices, and good people normally do, look for certain features in their employer. As I visit different businesses, it continues to amaze me how little attention is paid to some of the basics in the workplace.

Why would someone put up with poor pay, uninterested management, run-down physical surroundings, poor equipment and sub-standard recreation facilities (and by this I mean something as basic as a lunch room and tea and coffee) if they have a choice? These are just the basics. To compete, you need more.

A professional team

People who have a choice want to belong to a business that is going somewhere — a place where their work matters and they are recognised for it.

They also want to work in an organisation that fits their values, is clear on what is expected from its employees and is professional in managing them.

You need to have a vision and plans to get there. You then have to communicate these to your people and get them excited. You need to define your values or core competencies and involve people in acquiring them.

This way, they will then feel they are on a team of like-minded professionals doing worthwhile work.

The value of rewards

Rewards are important, but this does not mean paying the highest salary. A fair and consistent way of recognising people’s performance financially and non-financially is a key tool in keeping people on board.

Having a fair and competitive pay system linked to individual performance is a start. Throw out those awards — you need to exceed their provisions. You also need to have a process for doing this, so you do not just end up paying more to attract new people as you are losing old ones.

On top of the financial rewards, interesting work, challenges, a sense of achievement and recognition go a long way in motivating people. After a reasonable level of pay is achieved, these are the real motivators. And these can often be provided at very little cost.

Room for growth

Probably one of the key factors in attracting and retaining good people is providing room and support for them to grow and develop.

This means different things to different people. Training in the latest version of the accounting software may be exciting for one person whereas working alongside the marketing director learning about strategic planning may be what someone else wants.

Making sure these actions are identified in line with business needs and carried out requires some effort. But it is a good investment — both in business knowledge as well as in keeping people and continually improving their performance and satisfaction levels. — Singapore Straits Times/Asia News Network

Article by Paul Phillips, director of Horizon Management Group, a consulting firm that assists businesses to manage their people more effectively. Extracted from Star Classifieds.

To check how your organisation is doing in its ability to attract and retain good people, use the diagnostic tool at

It will take about 10 minutes to complete and will provide you with a graphical display of your rating plus a written report you can then use for input to your plans.