Talent Management: winning the battle before it becomes a war

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Talent Management: winning the battle before it becomes a war

Sourcing and retaining talent is crucial to any business’ success. Effective retention strategies enable organisations to retain and harness the potential of existing employees and may help attract the best candidates when recruiting. Talent management has never been so important and requires careful application so that organisations do not inadvertently fall foul of the law.

What is talent management?Talent Management: winning the battle before it becomes a war

Effective talent management identifies, develops, engages and retains individuals who can make a difference to their organisation’s performance either through immediate contribution or, in the longer term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential.

Most talent management strategies centre on objective, fair and precise ways of understanding people and their contribution to a business, and developing programmes to engage and develop them within the organisation. Communication is key to harnessing employee engagement, as is giving employees a clear sense of where their role is going, along with how it fits into their team and the organisation generally. Regular feedback and an appreciation of achievements can be as important as pay and benefits to an employee, and their value should not be underestimated by line managers.

Recognising a generation gap?

Effective talent management requires consideration of the generation from which an individual comes, as this tends to influence working style, development expectation and how these individuals engage in with the business. For instance, ‘Boomers’ (born between 1946-1964) tend to want their organisation to recognise them for their experience and are motivated by the legacy they will leave when they retire. In contrast, ‘Generation Y’ (born between 1980-1999) tend to be predominantly concerned with undertaking challenging and interesting work and having flexible and individualised career plans with recognition of their potential. These differences can be crucial to appreciate when sourcing and retaining talent, but applying these theories in practice (if undertaken clumsily) carries potential legal risks.

Managing potential legal risks

Well-intentioned talent management strategies have had a number of unintended consequences, such as age discrimination, constructive dismissal or challenges over flexible working. The availability of clear, transparent, fair and consistently applied talent management processes will help to reduce these risks.

Indirect discrimination

Discrimination can occur when a particular group is put at a disadvantage by the unlawful conduct of their employer. Arrangements for selecting candidates and the terms on which employment is offered should not discriminate against any specific group. If your talent management strategy could have the effect of indirectly discriminating a particular group (such as older workers if you are removing certain service-related benefits), then you will need to ensure that you have a legitimate aim to fulfil that could not be achieved by less discriminatory measures.

Constructive dismissal

If an employer’s act or failure to act amounts to a breach of an express or implied term of an employee’s contract of employment, that employee could resign and bring a claim for constructive dismissal. Ensuring that employees are promoted after a full and fair process and ensuring promoted individuals are supported in their new role will reduce risks of constructive dismissal claims from both disappointed colleagues and successfully promoted individuals. Clear communication of promotion opportunities and learning and development processes will also reduce risks.

Flexible working

Finally, it does not necessarily follow that the more senior the role, the greater the need for it to be performed on a full-time basis. Failure to consider flexible working applications at any level could expose an organisation to discrimination claims.

After a long period of economic uncertainty, growth is now predicted in the workforce. Whilst this is great news for the economy, it also means talent becomes more mobile as new jobs are created. A survey from the Institute of Leadership and Management suggests that over a third of employees plan to move jobs in 2015, considerably more than in previous years. Added to this, many experienced employees are heading towards retirement, meaning it is vital that organisations have the personnel to fill the skills gaps that will be left. Effective talent management can be an important weapon in any organisation’s armoury.


This article was published in the Travel Trade Gazette on the 21 May 2015. To download the article, click here.


Published: 2 Jun 2015

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