Understanding your junior talent

Employee engagement

There is often a disconnect between today’s junior talent and senior management.

The first step in retaining junior talent in your organisation, therefore, is to understand their real needs and ambitions.


Why are people leaving?


Understanding attrition at an industry level is often easier than pinpointing the exact reasons behind your own attrition rate.

Collecting quantitative and qualitative data on why people are leaving your organisations, particularly when suffering a high rate among certain groups, is the first step to addressing the problem.

Here are a couple of important ways to help you learn more:

Exit interviews

You cannot accurately determine the reasons behind a high attrition rate if you aren’t  carrying-out effective exit interviews. Ensure that each leaver is encouraged to take part in an exit interview and that findings are captured, communicated and turn into action.

Questions to consider asking:

  • What are the reasons that you’re leaving the firm?
  • Why are you choosing to leave now?
  • What would have had to be true for you to stay?
  • What, if any, recommendations do you have for how we could make things better?

Leaver surveys

A lack of understandable and accessible data can also hinder efforts to make important improvements. If you are also conducting online leaver surveys, ensure that the data is collected and analysed so that insights can be drawn.

With this data at your disposal, unpicking your attrition rate becomes much more straightforward. Insights from the data can form an important input, alongside exit interview results and anecdotes, to inform what action to take.



Why are people staying?

As well as understanding why people are leaving, it’s equally as important to know why others choose to remain. This uncovers the strengths of your organisation and some unique selling points that you can use to improve recruitment and retention.

Entry interviews

As part of your onboarding process, arrange an interview to discuss a new employee’s reasons for joining your firm. New joiners can offer valuable insights on your recruitment strategy, the interview process, onboarding and first impressions of the organisation. Entry interviews can also uncover things that a new employee would appreciate and that could potentially lead them to remain or leave – such as flexible working hours or opportunities to work abroad.

Similar to exit interviews, ensure that any information gathered is collated, shared with the right people, and turned into action.

Employee engagement surveys

Regular employee engagement surveys are critical to establishing regular communication and feedback with your workforce. It offers a ‘safe place’ for employees to voice any concerns or issues that they are having, and for you to take proactive steps to reduce or remove these.

Modern employee engagement surveys, like Culture Amp, make it easier than ever for HR to draw insights from the data. While it’s tempting to over-focus on the areas for improvement, take note of the areas that score highly. These can be good indicators of what employees really value about working in your organisation.



What do your people want?

The people ‘on the ground’ are your most accurate source of information on how employees are feeling about their careers and time working for you. Career conversations are vital – and not just to be left to an annual appraisal.

Having meaningful career conversations

Managers and other mentors need to have the right tools and training to carry-out effective career conversations. These discussions often involve a level of openness and honesty that isn’t commonplace in many workplaces – so it’s out of the comfort zone for many leaders.

Training managers with career coaching style tips and tools can help address this. Alternatively, separating roles between managers and career coaches can be useful, as fintech company Monzo discovered.

Individuals must also feel empowered to have career conversations and to take charge of their own development – not just leaving it up to managers and mentors. Fostering a culture of open communication and active development can help with this.  As can providing employees with technology that helps them reflect and decide on their career.

Antoinette Oglethorpe’s career conversation toolkit is a helpful resource for career coaches and career managers.

Running ‘leader listening tours’

Skyscanner’s Global Design Director, Steve ‘Buzz’ Pearce shared how each leader at Skyscanner runs ‘listening tours’.

Listening tours are 1 hour, round table sessions where employees are given a safe, confidential space to share their thoughts, concerns and questions. They’ve found that this generates a deep appreciation by employees and helps leaders to keep their finger on the pulse of what matters to employees.

“You’ve got to know what people thinking. All good leadership teams should be doing it.” – Buzz Pearce, Skyscanner

You can read more on how to run a leader Listening Tour here.

Testing your hypotheses

You might choose to take a hypothesis-led approach to understanding attrition and retention drivers in your firm. Testing hypotheses is a approach used by strategy consultants and proponents of the Lean Startup methodology.

Here are examples of a ‘hypotheses card’ that you can use to structure your hypotheses and how to test them:



The first step to retaining and engaging talent is to understand what employees really value.

Fortunately, in today’s workplace, there are many ways to learn what employees want – whether through employee surveys or having quality conversations. Bringing together a blend of these approaches helps you to better decide on actions that are likely to have the greatest positive impact.


If you’d value talking with one of the GroHappy team about employee retention and career development in your organisation, please get in touch here.



Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


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