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Why Retention is Critical in Talent Management

CI Summit panel spoke eloquently about finding qualified employees … not so much about how to keep keep top talent.

Daniel Newman

Last week at the CI Summit I had a great opportunity to sit in on a panel led by CI’s very own Tom LeBlanc on talent acquisition.

The overarching purpose of the panel was to discuss how to attract a younger, more technical demographic into the audiovisual industry; a task that isn’t for the faint of heart.

See, the AV industry lost its sex appeal sometime in the 70’s when the entire identity of AV became associated with some pimple faced nerd pushing a 9mm projector down the dark dank halls of your local high school. And even though the technology has become far cooler, the stereotypes associated with AV have been slow to fade away.

So how does an AV integrator attract top talent?

The presentation that came from Rob Simopolous at Advance Technology was interesting. He has a firm that goes beyond just AV and actually does physical security and other low voltage projects. However, his problems with talent acquisition were the same.

In order to combat his challenges he went programmatic. Knowing that most integration companies are small, which makes for somewhat minimal growth opportunities, Simopolous discussed how he turned to more or less a management training program approach.

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His employees were hired to do a specific job, but would come in and learn the entire business by spending time in each department before being placed into their full time role.

In addition to the job rotation and management training, Simopolous also built his rapport with local schools to bring interns and new employees into the fold. He felt that this type of connection was a great way to get younger talent to see the potential for a role in integration before coming out of school.

Attraction is Important, But Retention is the X Factor

From an overall industry standpoint and for a company that has less than 100 employees, I commend Advance Technology for what they are doing. I felt that it was innovative. However, one thing I think may be even more important than how we attract young and highly qualified talent, is how we keep them.

So what can companies do to keep the best talent?

With industry research pointing to the fact that employee turnover can be a multiplier of the employee’s annual salary, keeping your top talent should be on the top of the list for any business.

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With the jobs situation in the market still somewhat challenging, I contend that getting young talent interested in integration isn’t as hard as you think. However, I would suggest that keeping that talent interested and engaged would be.

One thing that Advance Technology was on a good track with was their development of job training and rotation. What happens in many small companies is that we bring someone in and we put them in that role. Their exposure to the company is limited and their prospects for growth are perhaps even more so.

In AV this happens often with programmers and technicians. They are put out in the field and they learn a task, but quickly their career path becomes stifled.

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Keeping employees can often be difficult when they don’t see any upward mobility and when they also find themselves disconnected from the business vision this just amplifies the problem.

For integrators, it is important to think about how to keep employees engaged. How can you continue to educate them and put them in positions for growth even if your company is only 10 or 20 employees?

While the answers aren’t obvious, I believe the keys are consistent engagement, feedback and opportunities to expand. Smaller businesses can offer an intimacy with their employees that can be attractive and the fact that you can change directions and stay agile is also a unique differentiator that can keep entrepreneurial young talent excited about what the company is doing.

So yes… acquiring great talent matters, but let me ask you this. How do you keep it?

About the Author

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I am a principal analyst of Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. I spend my time researching, analyzing and providing the world’s best and brightest companies with insights as to how digital transformation, disruption, innovation and the experience economy are changing how business is done. Bringing together the technology layer with the human layer, I seek to solve the biggest challenges that companies have today; how to grow, scale, change and adapt to a world where technology and media shift at breakneck speed. So what does this mean? It means that I spend my life learning about what drives people to adopt new technology so I can share those secrets with companies that are ready to take their business to the next level. From keynoting on the world’s largest stages to weekly insights on Forbes, MarketWatch and our owned media properties, my goal is to provide our clients with what they need to know to out innovate and turn disruption from threat, into a business model for success.

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