HR leaders say regular feedback vital in attracting, retaining staff

HR leaders at the CIPD Southern Region breakfast briefing at the Radisson Hotel Little Island, Cork: Mark Nolan, MSD, Jennifer O’Sullivan, VMware, Ken Murphy, CareerWise Recruitment, and Charlie Dineen, Fota Collection.

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Managers must hold regular conversations with team members as leaving it all to the annual appraisal runs the risk of losing talent, said a panel of HR leaders at a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development event in Cork.


Continuous personal development has become critical to attracting and retaining talent, said HR leaders addressing the CIPD Southern Region breakfast briefing at the Radisson Hotel Little Island, Cork, sponsored by CareerWise Recruitment.


Mark Nolan, executive director and HR lead for MSD Ireland, said: “We’re finding that the biggest challenge we have with the new talent growth framework is manager capability. Managers can find these discussions with employees to be daunting and we need to help them to have natural, regular conversations.


“We’re using ‘conversations that matter’ to drive the appropriate behaviors. Helping managers to realise how much it matters that they take the time to have meaningful discussions on development.


“We’re also working to have them realise that they have a community of leaders to help so thinking through conversations with employees can be extremely helpful.” Mr Nolan, the CIPD event’s keynote speaker, said that all the HR leaders present were well aware that each employee’s journey is completely unique. In terms of guiding managers, he said that starting simple was critical.


“Ask your employee about whether they know what they want to do in the future,” Mark said. “If they don’t, ask questions to help them to think about it — ‘What do you like about what you do? What would you like to do less of in the future? Who could we have you speak with about other roles that you might find of interest?’


“Having managers know that they don’t need to have all of the answers — saying that they will look into it is just fine. The key is having employees know you care enough to have the conversation.”


Mr Nolan also joined in a panel discussion with fellow HR experts Jennifer O’Sullivan of VMware, Ken Murphy of Careerwise Recruitment and Charlie Dineen of Fota Collection.


The group agreed that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to talent management was completely inadequate, especially in arguably the most candidate-focused era in living memory.


“Performance management and career development are critical to attracting and retaining talent in the current environment,” said Ken Murphy, of Careerwise Recruitment. “I’m in recruitment 21 years, and this is the most candidate-biased market that I’ve ever seen.


“The current demand for professionals across every sector is huge,” he said “In the midst of an increasingly competitive labour market, companies not only have to develop their attractiveness as an employer brand but also evaluate their strategies to retain employees.”


Jennifer O’Sullivan, VMWare, spoke on topics including global employee performance management and the challenges companies face in managing new hybrid work models. In relation to the “always on” culture that comes with remote work, she advised HR managers to help their employees to set boundaries.


“Employees often learn their behaviour from members of the senior team,” Jennifer said. “Just because an email is written out of hours there should not be an expectation of an immediate response — boundaries have to be put in place.”


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