Winning the War on Workplace Talent: Attracting and Retaining Star Employees

Posted in: PSA Partnership

In an environment where there are more jobs than job seekers, it’s up to executive leaders to use their influence when it comes to attracting and retaining talent and positively shaping the opinions employees have about their job and their company. At a recent PSA Partnership seminar, Garrison Wynn, stand-up comedian turned Fortune 500 executive and keynote speaker, revealed that the number one thing people want at their job (according to Gallup research) is to feel valued and heard. Turns out the war on talent in the workplace is no laughing matter.

Interested in building a culture of talented, influential, and committed staff? Follow Garrison’s proven methods for recruiting and retaining capable employees.


Here are some innovative ways to attract talent:

  1. Think about your audience

    Research is showing there are a large number of people between ages 23 and 35 who don’t need a job. They’re fine with living at home, and their parents are ok with it, too. Before you criticize their thinking, ask yourself, what would you do if you had that many options? We are in a talent war—here are some things you can do to fight back:

  • If you’re competing for talent in this demographic, discuss the advantages of a full-time job when you get candidates in the door.
  • Consider using temp agencies—studies show temporary employees aren’t any more or less engaged than your full-time hires.
  • Create a one-minute, professional, engaging video ad about your company for social media.
  1. Follow interview best practices

  • Use your most likeable people (rather than your longest-tenured experts) to conduct interviews.
  • Let the interviewee do 70% of the talking. People like talking about themselves, which will make them feel the interview went well. This will also maximize your opportunity to vet them.
  • Ask the interviewee what they enjoy doing most, and ask them to tell you more about that. If what they like doing is not in line with the job duties of the open position, they will likely feel unfulfilled and jump ship.
  • Ask if there is anything you didn’t ask that you should have. This shows that you care, and it might show you what competitors are asking.

Studies show people who are recruiting well are demonstrating that they are pro-environment, educate on the job, are a fun place to work, and are diverse.


While finding the right candidate for a job is important, in this war for talent, it is even more critical to understand how to retain employees:  

  1. Listen

    Listening to someone who can’t offer you anything isn’t just about being polite. Scientific studies show that people will stay with a manager who listens come hell or high water. If you make people feel valued, they’ll value you.

  1. Work with what you have

    Your most talented people might be difficult personalities. A lot of top performers jump from place to place because they feel they were poorly managed. If you have difficult high-performers, take a look at the role you play in their bad behavior—your hostility toward them will decrease. Garrison emphasized that most people won’t do this because it’s not easy. He asked, “Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective? Most of us want to be right.”

    Regardless of personalities, experience levels, and generational differences, Garrison stresses that “You have to manage the people you have for who they are, not who you want them to be.” In his opinion, a huge leadership flaw is wishing everyone would think and act like you. In fact, another key to retention is helping people develop their own brilliance and existing talents instead of giving them yours. Teach people to think.

  1. Work on your change management skills

    No one wants to be a “senior beginner.” People cling to old ways to feel smart and useful. Show tenured employees how their existing knowledge is valuable, then show them what’s new and needs to change. If you tell someone their life’s work is irrelevant, don’t expect them to receive it well. According to Garrison, “Change is not the issue. It’s our resistance to change that’s the issue. Action and adaptability create opportunity.”

  1. Create a culture of engagement

Engaged employees feel that their direct supervisor supports them, they know how their job impacts the organization’s overall success, and they see a path and a future.

  1. Provide clarity

    According to Garrison, “simple is the new smart” and “clarity is king.” It doesn’t matter if your ideas are brilliant if no one understands. If you can’t simplify your message, people won’t think you know what you’re talking about. People want to clearly understand what i­­s expected of them. Tell your employees what’s important and how they can do a good job. Key things like orientation must be streamlined and understandable.

Attracting and retaining talent is not easy. As a leader in your organization, ask yourself, “What does it feel like to have me as a boss?” Make people feel heard and valued, and ensure things are clear. Retain employees and hire the right person for the job. To do that, believe in your own worth. In Garrison’s words, “If you believe in your own value, it’s a lot easier to show other people theirs.”

Related Posts

  1. Nir Bashan: The Creator Mindset
  2. Penny Zenker: Breaking Your Addiction to Distraction