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Hear! Hear!

Yes, Reena, too many organizations still focus on the retention of bodies vice the retention of skills.

At my firm, we think of the retention of Brains And Hearts - we want both the intellectual capacity and the engagement of the person.

As more and more industries move toward a skills-centric view of talent, I think your suggestions will become more crucial.

Thanks for the post!

Number-crunchers can't count skills. KSAs do not appear in inventory categories and balance sheets. Rarely are they monetized (that's another topic!). Assuming the existence of the ideal environment won't work well in the real world, I'm afraid.

As one who has been there and done that for many decades, I have seen my carefully constructed cathedrals of competence completely demolished by careless cost-cutters implementing the commands of owners driven by short-term financial demands. Payroll tends to be the largest expense item in the service industries that currently dominate. Even in capital-intensive organizations, they cut people (the essential muscle) before they cut the bone (the capital equipment that can be operated by anyone).

This is, of course, gross over-simplification; but that's the way the world turns. Talent is not seen as a true "resource" because it is human (soft, variable, inconsistent, uncontrollable, plentiful, etc.) and thus replaceable rather than objects (relatively impermeable, solid, consistent, programmable, reliable, scarce, etc.). Furthermore, people are temporarily rented while things are permanently owned. Talent is a variable expense while things have fixed costs that can be amortized. But enough of accounting and economics.

Uniformed services like the military, law enforcement and other first responders have better talent-retention priorities because they tend to be tax-supported and can thus afford to stockpile talent over the commercial priorities of private firms driven by shareholder/owner values. There is good reason for the relative security of public jobs: talent-retention costs can be shifted more easily in a monopolistic economic environment than in a competitive one.

As a military veteran who has also consulted to every branch of public service, I know their talent management systems rarely rise to the sophistication level of the "war rooms" I have seen in a few corporations; but they painstakingly implement them far more rigorously than the average private employer. They know that their service depends on the talent they retain, so they CARE about that.

These observations are intended to clarify exactly how massive a challenge we Total Rewards folks face in order to actually implement the completely accurate needs Reena so properly identified. No need to list the scores of others who have similarly cried out in the wilderness... don't let her pleas similarly fall on barren ground! This issue haunts us because we have failed to supply effective remedies.

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