Deborah Lewis, Head of Talent Academy at Celerity, explains how developing talent in house could cut recruitment costs and result in better hires

The best employees for a job might be the ones you already have. High performers, in particular, are incredibly valuable to any organisation – they’re talented, dedicated people who can even boost the productivity of others that they work with. If you are lucky enough to have a few in your company, you know the importance of holding on to them.

Every organisation wants high-quality employees, and this has produced a serious and ongoing ‘war for talent’ in the job market. High performers know that they have options elsewhere, so it’s crucial that their current employer keeps them content and engaged. An internal talent pipeline and robust HR strategy are critical to keeping employees on board, so here are some tips for reducing overhead and developing talent internally.

Spot employee ambitions early

Once a new recruit has settled in, the next step is to sit down with managers to discuss their long-term career goals. Where do they want to be in 5 years? What about 10? What will it take to get there?

Establishing an employee’s ambition allows the company to work with them to create a comprehensive development plan to help them achieve their aims. This development plan keeps them engaged and motivated, and creating these plans for the entire organisation gives the company some insight into its long-term staffing situation.

Post roles internally

It should go without saying that employees within the company are offered the same opportunities as those applying from the outside. Recognising the potential of employees can improve morale and broaden the pool of candidates, both of which ultimately benefit the business. Candidates from within the organisation also benefit from their existing knowledge about the clients and the company’s way of operating, meaning that they often adapt to their new role faster than someone from the outside.

Training employees

Another ostensibly fairly straightforward area which many businesses fail to appreciate is the importance of internal development programmes and opportunities. The company is uniquely positioned to understand employees’ goals, cultivate and train them, and reap the benefits of a more skilled workforce, but many companies still hold back on L&D.

Training can be targeted to specific skill levels and competencies to suit both the company’s needs and the employee’s plan. This can come in the form of training courses, both internal and external, and should cover key skills like managing people, understanding the company and the industry, negotiating, and problem-solving. One of the best ways to learn is by doing, and companies can even temporarily move employees within the company to different departments or roles.

Create a compelling company culture

An indirect but particularly impactful way that companies can keep their employees is through the culture. People who feel like a part of the team and who look forward to taking on the challenges of the day are far less likely to be lured away by a competitor company offering a slightly larger pay cheque.

Similarly, companies which offer benefits such as flexible hours and working from home will be able to maintain employees even when their life situation requires time outside of the office. Considering how simple modern technology makes remote working for many industries, this is a simple step for most companies to take.

Ongoing conversations over annual appraisals

Many businesses are shifting to continual conversations about employee performance in lieu of the traditional quarterly or annual performance review. Whereas the classic approach happens only rarely and with limited options for praise and punishment in the interim, more frequent conversations make it possible for employees to learn and improve continuously.

This also plays a big role in career development, since employees that understand what their manager expects in real-time and can demonstrate improvement over time. Employees who know what they need to improve may not take a whole year to make that change and can benefit from more regular check-ins. It’s also nice to receive positive feedback when everything is going well, and even a meeting that just affirms that everything is on the right track can improve employee morale.

Retaining employees is crucial

From understanding their plans and relaying feedback to creating a positive work environment and offering training, there are a lot of fairly small but very impactful changes that companies can make to guarantee that they are holding on to their best employees. This offers a range of benefits tothe company, as internal promotions don’t need to learn all the company’s systems from scratch and develop institutional expertise over time.

Overall, companies which are making promotions from within their ranks and taking steps to keep current employees happy will be the best positioned to win the ‘war for talent.’