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Silicon Valley companies need HR to focus on talent retention
July 14, 2004
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Lausanne, Switzerland -- As the US economy continues to rebound, technology companies are increasing their efforts to attract and retain talent, according to IMD Development Director Jim Pulcrano who recently met with management at many leading Silicon Valley companies including Intuit, Logitech, Intel, Yahoo!, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Cisco, TiVo, Blue Coat and 3Dconnexion as part of IMD's Executive MBA program.

"The general consensus is that during the Internet boom a lot of companies got sloppy because things were just moving too fast, so they brought in whomever they could, threw a lot of money at them, and didn't think about other forms of retention so they are going to lose people quickly as the US economy rebounds," says Pulcrano. "Companies in Silicon Valley with strong employee retention are those that treat their employees with a sense of fairness and integrity, in addition to paying well and developing them. Management at high retention companies show employees that they are committed to sustaining a culture that makes people want to stay."

According to Pulcrano, technology companies and those in other industries can improve their recruitment and retention of talent by adhering to a few key strategies:

  • Involve executive management. The CEO or line executives should drive employee retention efforts by ‘walking the talk’ by being involved in employee-related events, programs and communications. "People remember stories, not the 'company values' posters on the wall, so when executives show up at company events, their presence and actions demonstrate their commitment to employees and shows they care, and people remember this," says Pulcrano;
  • Make human resources part of your company's business strategy. Many human resource departments are ‘islands’ within their company and disconnected from key decision-making at the executive level. "To overcome this void, human resource executives must get better acquainted with their company's business operations, financial statements and customer needs”, says Pulcrano. "The closer that human resources gets to the company's business strategy, the closer it will get to the CEO's agenda, and if they're not on the CEO's agenda, then they don't have an agenda themselves;"
  • Eliminate barriers that hinder employee training and development. Build a culture that requires managers to share their professional resources. "Talent doesn't grow unless it's cultivated - and it's cultivated best by circulating it to other departments, and if this is part of the culture, not only does the talent benefit, but so does the company;"
  • Build a talent pipeline before you begin to fill it. Establish incentives, performance metrics and a philosophy that fosters teamwork. This will place human resources in a good position to move revenue-generating ideas down the pipeline. "Most companies are not good at building team environments which is why there's continual focus on team building;”
  • Be consistent in your employee training and development plans. Many companies cut back on their employee training and development initiatives as soon as a downward blip appears in their earnings, because they are too focused on short-term performance. "Insightful companies make their employee training and development programs an important part of the company's long-term growth strategy," says Pulcrano.

"The most important element to training and development efforts today is to stick with them, and make sure they are linked to the business. Cut your programs back if necessary, but do not abandon your programs. Consistency and coherence are what all employees want and is what they respond to best in the workplace."

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