At the time of writing U.S. unemployment is at 3.7%, which can be arguably regarded as full employment. A host of workforce issues attend this favorable employment environment such as worker quality, job satisfaction and employee retention. In the competition for workers, companies can become so desperate for help that they neglect employee development. The concept of ‘talent hoarding’ is being used to describe a manager’s tendency to focus on retaining their employees so much so that they neglect their development.

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When managers neglect to encourage or even allow for internal movement of employees, they’re ‘hoarding’ talent, and flirting with the risk of de-motivating or losing good people. The top reason employees give for leaving their employer is “frustration with career progress,” according to a recent analysis by Gallup. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report showed that a full 51% of currently employed adults are either actively or passively looking for new job opportunities. So it’s not surprising to find that companies failing to prioritize their workers’ career mobility are the most vulnerable to losing talent.

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But why is this kind of hoarding so bad for business? Investment to find, onboard, train and develop employees in a specific role is expensive and retention of skilled workers is critical. While keeping employees in the same position may seem like a method to skyrocket a team’s success, it actually stunts growth and leads to an employee’s dissatisfaction with the manager and eventually job disengagement. Closing the door on mobility damages an entire organization’s health—and loses a company’s best people. 

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Eliminating talent hoarding can help you leverage the talent you already have. Bain & Company found that top-performing companies (those in the top quartile surveyed) had nearly the same percentage of “stars” in their workforce as the other companies surveyed. In other words, the most successful companies don’t actually house more star talent overall than low-performing companies. The difference: they invest in their key players wisely.

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Holding back your star players from new roles not only leads to low employee retention but negatively impacts market success. In their Talent Mobility Matters study, the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that 74% of the companies characterized as bottom performers, admitted to hoarding. What’s more, the study found that prioritizing talent mobility directly correlates to higher market performance in profitability, customer satisfaction, market share, and more.

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Sparking change is the responsibility of leadership. Fixing the talent hoarding habit requires some major organizational shifts, like instilling a big-picture mindset (working to benefit the organization versus only a manager’s own team). Employee engagement, identifying business-critical roles, mentorship, and mobilizing stars into diverse roles are all key management actions to correct a talent hoarding trend.

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Leaders must begin with a shift in perspective. They must realize that investment in developing talent is a continuous effort, and that growth through new challenges, even if it means mobility, brings bottom line benefit. It’s always wise to invest in understanding the facts and measures for performance. OrgChart software can help with this analysis. Indicator metrics of talent hoarding such a turnover ratio, bench strength and performance can be uploaded from HR data sources to be clearly visualized in a chart format. Different departments of the organization can be compared to identify potential problem areas.

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Tenure and Performance Rating, used along with other workplace metrics, can help identify talent hoarding within your organization 

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While encouraging worker mobility might seem disruptive or counterproductive to some managers, the evidence indicates that for the long-term health of your business, it’s the right thing to do. Ask us for a free demo of our OrgChart Software and see how charts generated from data sources you already maintain are used to give clear insights of key HR metrics across your organization. 

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