Talent management has become a focal point in Human Resources management.
Since the early publications on the "War for Talent" in the 1990s (Steven Hankin, 1997), during a time when the job market was highly competitive, especially for recruiting top-level executives,organizations have come a long way in recognizing the specificity of actions and projects to be implemented to address this concern.

Graduate programs : a seductive response

Companies have initially invested efforts to attract and select the best individuals from excellent educational backgrounds. The primary goal was to entice and engage young recruits who possessed the skills to become driving forces for the organization's present performance and future transformation. The most involved companies then developed specific and appealing programs tailored for a selected group: the Graduate Programs. These programs have a dual purpose: firstly, to attract top talent by fostering their growth within the organization, and secondly, to achieve significant and rapid returns on the resources invested in these recruitment endeavors.

Ambitious Graduate Programs have seamlessly integrated immersive experiences that leave a lasting impact, as well as interactions with influential personalities both within and outside the company. For instance, they have implemented shadowing programs with the Executive Committee (COMEX), alternative COMEX structures comprising young talents to infuse novel dynamics, and temporary detachment arrangements for project-based assignments (secondment).

Nevertheless, these generous, comprehensive, and elitist programs are not a miracle solution and can have unintended consequences and some backlash. They instill in some participants a triple sense of uniqueness, instant gratification, and entitlement. As a result, after completing the program, some participants may develop exaggerated expectations.

These programs are no longer sufficient for employee retention, despite the interest and positive judgment of these high-achievers regarding their experiences. Once the exhilarating and extraordinary period of the Graduate Program is over, participants are required to return to a normal position, which can feel contrasting for some, compared to the excitement of the program. Their renewed commitment may diminish over time.

The aftermath can be somewhat challenging for HR, leaving managers feeling ill-equipped to address the situation.

HIPO Programs

These programs aim to elevate their leadership capabilities, equip them with cutting-edge management techniques, and enhance their skill sets.

In parallel, companies have developed Learning, Talent, and Development programs designed for high-potential executives (HIPOs). These programs aim to elevate their leadership capabilities, equip them with cutting-edge management techniques, and enhance their skill sets. Carefully designed, these programs not only drive employee engagement but also propel most participants towards greater responsibilities, serving as a catalyst for implementing the company's strategy. They also act as a powerful tool in enhancing the employer brand communication of organizations, which readily promote them externally.

However, talent management must now adapt to the increasing pressure of employee retention. The phenomenon of key employee attrition is widespread across all sectors.

This trend of departures is evident throughout the organization, affecting high-potential individuals as well. Once the initial gratifying training period concludes, they may choose to leave the organization relatively quickly, in search of opportunities elsewhere that provide a greater sense of purpose, adventure, and the chance for expanded or different responsibilities.

Harnessing all talents for retention

First and foremost, let us reaffirm that talent management extends far beyond managing high-potential individuals (HIPOs).

We must redefine the semantic scope of the term "talent" by expanding its original meanings, which have been lost in the French and English languages but still exist in Italian and Spanish. In these languages, talent refers not only to specific abilities and gifts but also to inclinations and aspirations.

Therefore, Human Resources departments need to collaborate with managers to create conducive environments that enable talented employees to utilize their strengths to drive performance. Simultaneously, these conditions should offer opportunities for personal growth through engaging projects and assignments. Clear action choices should be offered to them as well. Management development programs should therefore incorporate this objective by equipping managers with the means to actively foster and encourage talent development through a formal framework. By doing so, they significantly contribute to enhancing employee satisfaction.

This objective can only be achieved if it remains aligned with the daily activities that drive operational performance. The challenge lies in directing energies and aspirations towards actions that provide a sense of personal fulfillment. Training workshops on subjects like organizational design, empowerment, change sociology, fostering and supporting innovation, as well as talent identification and competency forecasting, have become essential. They equip managers and leaders with the necessary tools to effectively participate in the "War for Talent" with a strong advantage.

You would like to implement a transformation program within your company to develop the skills of your employees and promote talent retention?

Learn more about custom training programs

This article was conducted for the ANDRH magazine and published in the May 2023 edition - Talent Management.