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Talent Hoarding and Employee Retention Are Two Different Things

By Sharlyn Lauby

We know what employee retention is, right?! It's the organization's ability to keep employees. The way we do that is by having a work environment that people want to be a part of. One where employees feel they are valued and supported.

There's another term being discussed right now when it comes to keeping employees. It's called talent hoarding. This is when organizations prevent employees from pursuing their career goals because they want to keep them right where they are. Sometimes when managers find a high potential or high performing employee, they might hoard them from the rest of the organization.

I'm sure we can all empathize with the delight a manager feels when they find an absolutely fantastic employee. But if the thought has crossed your mind to keep that employee a secret from the rest of the company, let me assure you that talent hoarding is not the answer. In fact, talent hoarding could have the opposite effect - a disengaged and disgruntled employee who eventually leaves the company.

Employees want to know that the organization they work for supports their career. In a 2021 Gallup study, 61% of employees said they will stay at companies that invest in their training and development. This aligns with a LinkedIn study that said 94% of employees would stay at a company that invests in their growth.

I've said before that a manager's primary role is to find and train their replacement. This isn't something that happens overnight. It takes time. Managers should be spending time thinking about developing employees whom they can delegate to. Otherwise, it becomes a challenge for the manager to work on a special project or attend training because their department falls apart when they're gone. So, when managers hoard employees, they're actually hurting both their career goals and the employees'.

But let's say that despite the manager's department occasionally falling into chaos, the manager gets a promotion. Since that manager didn't spend any time developing their employees, there's no one to promote into the manager's role. We all know what this means. The manager must do their old job PLUS their new job until a replacement is found. (Oh, and P.S. I know I don't have to say it, but I will. The manager isn't going to get more money for the extra workload.) During a period in time when the manager should be focused on their new job and being set up for success, they're being pulled in multiple directions. Not a good situation for the manager or the company.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because it could be very tempting right now for managers to want to show the organization that they're indispensable. And they may falsely believe the way to do that is by talent hoarding. Nothing could be further from the truth. Truly indispensable managers are the ones who encourage employee growth.

Organizations that focus on employee learning and development will benefit from a more skilled workforce and better employee retention. This translates into increased productivity and excellent customer service, which ultimately will reflect on the bottom line.

About the author:

Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR is president of ITM Group Inc., a consulting firm which focuses on developing training solutions that engage and retain talent in the workplace. The company has been named one of the Top Small Businesses in South Florida.

She is also the author of the blog HR Bartender, a friendly place to talk about workplace issues. The blog has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Business Blogs Worth Reading by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and SparkHire's Top 25 Must-Read Blogs for Employers.

Her personal goal in life is to find the best cheeseburger on the planet.