Talent Retention – What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“Resignations are at an all-time high, and companies desperate to fill vacancies are trying everything from pay rises to trendy perks.  But these interventions are falling short – because the real problem is that jobs are often stressful, meaningless, and unloveable.”

So writes Marcus Buckingham, Head of People and Performance Research at ADPRI in HBR’s 2022 May-June cover story article.  We’ve known for a long time that work isn’t working anywhere near as optimally as it could be.  The countless streams of low workplace engagement scores compiled annually by global research companies such as Gallup and ADPRI provide ample data for us to know that this is a talent problem that needs attention now more than ever.   ADPRI’s 2020 Global Workplace Study, pre-pandemic, revealed that only 18% of respondents reported as being highly engaged at work.  A worryingly low score which dropped a further 2% more, during the course of the pandemic.  

Managing in a Human Way

Making work more meaningful and loveable goes to the core of all we do at People Potential International.  Not only do we believe that this is possible to achieve, we also believe what our good friend and associate Brian Smyth articulates so well in his book Managing to be Human– that: 



We know this to be true from our own work experiences and from those we have the privilege of working with.   My own father who worked in sales all his life, loved his work so much that on the day of his retirement at the ripe old age of 82, told me that far from it being the best day of his life, it was one of his saddest.  Bittersweet!  What a great accolade to the fulfilment of a lifetime’s work and organisational contribution that was joyfully shared with teammates, customers, suppliers and friends.

As managers and leaders we have great power to influence how meaningful, engaging and fulfilling the jobs of our people are, especially our direct-reports.  When we use this power wisely, we can positively turn-the-dial on the engagement, retention, performance and resilience of our people.  We can invite people to bring their full potential – or what Gary Hamel calls the higher human capabilities of: initiative, creativity and passion – to work each and every day.  

People choose every day whether or not to bring these higher capabilities to work and to what intensity.  Three things you can do today as leaders and managers to positively influence this are:

  • Optimise for Strengths – organise your work projects and teams in a way that each individual gets to use their unique strengths at work everyday. ADPI’s data on engagement identifies the daily application of strengths at work as one of the most powerful predictors of engagement, retention, performance and resilience. And to be clear, a strength is an activity that strengthens and energises you.  It’s an activity you love and look forward to doing.  While a weakness on the other hand is an activity that weakens you.  You may be very good at it, but it depletes you, and if you never had to do it again you would be very ok with that.   
  • Weekly 1 : 1 Team Check-ins – people need frequent and focused attention when it comes to flourishing in a high performance environment.  As human beings we benefit greatly when we have the support, encouragement and belief of another person in our potential, wellbeing and ability to succeed.  As managers it is our responsibility and great privilege to help people grow into more of their real potential under our leadership for the benefit of the individual, the team and the organisation.  Failing to do so is to fail as a manager.  One-to-one weekly check-in’s, focused on near-term future work is one of the most powerful ways of doing this.  And this becomes significantly more important when working in a hybrid or fully remote work environment.
  • Manage as a Coach – coaching as a management style provides three fundamental foundations for success.  Firstly, it honours the unique strengths of each individual enabling people to successfully achieve their goals in the way that works best for them.  Secondly, it treats people as adults rather than subordinates that need to be told what to do.  Treating people as adults gives you more of them: more initiative, more creativity and more brainpower.  Thirdly, it enables managers to simultaneously develop better performers and better learners with each coaching conversation.  You will know you are coaching well when you are seeing these results.  

Making work more loveable and meaningful gives all of us a shared purpose worthy of commitment.  And in a world where people now have more choices than ever before about where and how they work, this has never been more important as it is today for attracting and retaining talent. We designed our Manager as Coach programme to specially address this need. If you wish to learn more about this programme you can do so by clicking here or contacting me directly.

Wishing you well,


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