The Right to Win (and Retain): Earning x Learning Value Proposition

As we navigate 2022 talent realities, opportunities to change your work are abundant. Many are evaluating their options. In fact, employees increasingly quit their jobs while still contemplating the value that their work adds (or does not add) to their lives. Others are the survivors holding the pieces together in the wake of attrition. Obsessing over retention of scarce and valuable people is top priority for organizations and the Earning x Learning matrix will be a helpful addition to the Talent Management toolkit for most organizations and individuals.

For Individuals: You are evaluating options of where to contribute your time and talents going forward, and should assess what will be gained beyond compensation. What will your options be two moves from now? Finding a team willing to pay you competitively to stretch and expand your capabilities, making you more valuable in the future, is most often achieved in the organization that knows you and wants to keep a good thing going. There are a lot of people with buyers remorse after their 2021 employer change.

For Organizations: You seek to engage, develop, and retain key talent. Differentiating your value proposition beyond (i.e., including) compensation to offer learning opportunities through developmental assignments will improve your retention and development of talent.

Skeptical of the value of developmental cross-moves? In January, MIT Sloan published Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation: Research using (empirical) employee data revealing the top five predictors of attrition and four actions managers can take in the short term to reduce attrition. From the analysis, the number one (#1) action identified that managers can take in the short term to reduce attrition, “providing employees with lateral career opportunities… is 2.5 times more powerful as a predictor of a company’s relative retention rate compared with compensation.”

Individuals have a great opportunity to move beyond “should I stay or should I go?” to assess “how do I stay and grow?” as a potentially more rewarding option.

Organizations are likely to have more openings than you built into your Annual Operating Plan (AOP) due to attrition and perhaps growth. Before looking externally and without lowering your standards, look across your current team. While further destabilizing the business through internal moves may seem unmanageable, you have much more control of the change happening on your terms and timing, and you are selecting someone you know will work in your organization.

A practical recommendation for leadership teams: regularly (multiple times per year) talk Talent candidly and confidentially as a team:

  1. WHO: What key talents (each leader to prioritize top 1-3 from across the team) require action to best retain your assets and steward the team?
  2. WHAT: From the Earning x Learning matrix, what action is needed as we obsess over retaining our best assets?

Not every team member will be retained. You’ll be happy for some as they take opportunities beyond your organization and you are happy to have a team that is a great place to be from. But, for many, this extra proactive step will make a significant difference.

At scale and over a multi-year time horizon, this will also support improvements in collaboration, strengthening informal networks and increasing the speed and agility with which organizations can adapt and make change. Development occurs through experiences. Offer your best people your best experiences as a differentiating capability to earn the right to win and retain talent through a differentiated value proposition.

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