Talent Development

Maynard Webb On How To Retain Today’s Top Talent

By Maynard WebbNovember 25, 2014

As our webinar Q&A With Maynard Webb: The Future of Talent approaches, Maynard offered to write a guest post for us on the topic. Be sure to save a spot and send in your questions.

160I grew up in the generation that experienced Woodstock, the era that celebrated personal freedom. Yet, ironically, my peers and I jumped into paternalistic companies with corporate ladders and defined hierarchies—and we thought it was fantastic. We welcomed working for places that rewarded tenure over talent, and where we measured success by the number of tiles on our ceilings or whether or not we’d snagged a corner office.

It seems silly now, especially when today’s workplace is so dramatically different: millenials are taking the workforce by storm; companies are competing for talent by delivering an absurd amount of perks; technical roles are being outsourced; everyone is becoming an entrepreneur and tenure is becoming obsolete. Tomorrow’s talent no longer wants to work for companies—they want to start companies.

And this isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley. We are seeing generational shifts among MBAs across the board, many of whom say they prefer to work for places defined by a more entrepreneurial culture, with structures they describe as “flat” and “nonhierarchical” and that promote personal responsibility, ownership, flexibility and mentorship.

On top of that, having witnessed the collapse of institutions like Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual and Lehman Brothers (to name just a few) many young people rightfully believe that with little to no job security, the only safety net they can count on is themselves: their experience, their skills and their values.

So, what’s a company to do when it wants to attract and retain today’s hottest talent? Below are the top five things companies must do to keep today’s and tomorrow’s top employees from quitting:

1. Give frequent feedback.

Today’s employees want to see the difference they make in their organization and be recognized for it. Millennials grew up on social media and expect similar feedback channels; fortunately, a new generation of performance management software can help with this.

2. Grant flexibility.

Put people in charge of their fate and give them the opportunity to make a difference. It’s important to create “step-up opportunities,” or roles that have room for constant expansion and the opportunity to push the boundaries.

3. Enable people to work for a higher purpose.

Many people would rather be unemployed than take position doing something they find unfulfilling. Today’s workforce – more than ever – enjoys working for an early startup, or launching his or her own organization because of the sense of accomplishment they gain. Companies (regardless of size) need to figure out how to make their story and mission compelling to their employees.

4. Keep them learning

This is not the 1980s. Salary is important, but it’s not as important as learning potential and personal fulfillment. Gaining important skills (in areas such as marketing, product management and sales) is what matters as people build their careers. Internal and external mentoring programs will help achieve this.

5. Include everyone.

Let employees collaborate with their peers and give them access to executives. They want to be included in the conversation and feel as if they are a part of something. Many are accustomed to working in groups, whether in person or online, so create opportunities for them to collaborate easily across the organization.

This blog post originally appeared on Maynard’s personal blog and was re-published with his permission.


Maynard Webb

Maynard Webb

Co-Founder at Everwise - Chairman, Yahoo!, Former COO, eBay; Author 'Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship.'

About the Author

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