The Great Talent Heist is a game that nobody wins. I first heard about the Great Talent Heist from a colleague of mine, one of those guys who was always going to make it who had recently been poached by a rival firm. We were both grinding away as junior analysts at one of the big four and he kept talking about the promises of big salaries, better benefits, and more exciting opportunities. It was all too tempting to resist, and before he knew it, he was packing his bags and heading for greener pastures.
It’s a phenomenon that has been sweeping the business world for decades, and many are still trying to catch up. Companies are on the hunt for the brightest stars in the sky, looking to steal them away from their current employers and nurture their talents within their own organisations. It’s a cutthroat game, and only the strongest and most cunning will come out on top.
But what about the company he left behind? What happens when the brightest stars are stolen away, leaving behind a void that can’t be filled? This is the harsh reality of the Great Talent Heist.
To understand this phenomenon, we need to delve into the psychology of human motivation. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, humans have five basic needs that must be fulfilled in order to reach their full potential: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualisation needs. It used to be that when a company is able to fulfil these needs for its employees, they are more likely to stay and thrive within that organisation.
But that’s not enough anymore.
Maslow is old news, because most people have moved beyond simply struggling just to survive. So, when a rival company is able to one-up basic needs and offers a better salary or more exciting opportunities, suddenly the employee’s esteem needs and self-actualisation needs become more important than their loyalty to their current employer. They begin to feel undervalued and unappreciated where they are, and they start to look for greener pastures.
Cue the Great Talent Heist. Getting buy in for your vision or your mission is great, but you need to understand your talent on a personalised and individual level, so you can connect and motivate them on a personalised and individual level. Until then, companies are still able to lure away top talent by offering them more money, better benefits, and more exciting opportunities. It’s a win-win for the employee and the new employer, but what about the company left behind?
The truth is, the Great Talent Heist is not sustainable. It creates a culture of mistrust and instability within organisations, and it can be incredibly damaging to a company’s bottom line. We all know those companies with high turnover. One where people are sticking around for 6-12 months on average and then leaving. This could be due to leadership, culture, or it could just be the competition for talent. When top talent is constantly being poached, it becomes difficult to build a strong and cohesive team, and productivity and morale can suffer as a result.
So, what’s the solution?
How do we stop the Great Talent Heist in its tracks? The answer is simple: nurture the talent you already have by giving them personalised attention. Sounds simple, but I can tell you first hand that most organisations don’t do this at all. Instead of constantly looking outside the organisation for the next big thing or change maker, focus on developing the skills and talents of your current employees and make them the stars. Offer them opportunities for growth and development, and show them that they are valued and appreciated.
When employees feel that their needs are being met, that they’re being engaged as an individual human and not part of a machine, and that they are an integral part of the organisation, they are less likely to be tempted by offers from rival companies. They are more likely to stay and contribute to the success of the organisation, creating a culture of loyalty and stability that will benefit everyone in the long run.
The Great Talent Heist is a game that nobody wins. It’s time to start nurturing the talent we already have, and building strong and cohesive teams that can weather any storm. The stars in the sky may be bright, but it’s the stars within our own organisations that truly shine.
Onward and upward, always.