TALENT ENGAGEMENT AND RETENTION: The Doorway to Good Leadership in times of Crisis

While browsing through the HR insights provided by Dr. D. Prasanth Nair, Co-founder of Asynithis (Indus Partners), in his twitter hashtag series #HRSutra, the following tweet caught my attention which says:

“In corporates, one sign of a leader is the ability to engage with talent. Some leaders attracts good talent and retains them. Others end up losing good talent”

Can you identify the keywords from the above? Well, maybe you are right there. Leadership, talent management, employee engagement, and retention.

We people were never prepared to encounter such a pandemic. Minor setbacks aside, we didn’t realize that the ‘dynamic environment’ that we talk about has another set of meanings to it.

In times of crisis like this, what any team expects from its leader is to anchor the ship, make sure that the people on board are safe and sound, the cargo and other essentials are safe, and most importantly sail the boat on-shore without causing any damage to their willpower and keeping the faith unimpaired in their leader.

While many organizations are struggling to keep their ships intact, many others are beautifully embracing the changes of the wind. In this need of the hour, when virtual space has become the ‘new essential’, leaders are striving to keep their employees engaged and socially connected. Every employee is looking up to their CxOs, MDs, Directors, and other important stakeholders to take charge of this situation with an empathetic mindset and an outlying vision. As much as they are dependent on the top management, the latter relies on the former equally the same.

The current scenario is that though the companies already have the best talent, what next to keep their productive and creative juices flowing? This is where our most important ingredients come in picture i.e. Talent Management, Employee Engagement, and Employee Retention.

If there is anything that we’ve learned in the past two months, it is that the world around us is evolving faster than we expected it to be, home is the new normal workspace and we need to constantly communicate, engage and upskill our talent to keep them going.


Here are a few ‘mantras’ that every leader must know around the clock, in times like these:

  1. The AM factor- Appreciate and Motivate:

In such circumstances, where everyone is on the same page, dealing with the same crisis in their different ways and with limited means to survive, appreciation is the key to boost the motivation level of any employee. And it’s not always about the big things, but the small gestures are the ones that matter the most. For instance, tell your employee that he did a good job undergoing an upskilling certification course. Show gratitude towards them and be kind. You’ll notice the increase in their motivation level to the perfect amount.

  1. Connect, Reconnect, and Stay Connected!

Open and frequent communication is the heart of employee engagement. There is no such thing as overcommunication in these times. Not only the immediate supervisors or team leads must connect with their employees, but the leaders much ensure that there is constant connectivity between the top executives and employees at every level. Both must make sure that they reconnect from time to time, share their experiences, and stay connected about each other’s visions and objectives when the company goals are concerned.

  1. Engage them in team-building activities:

To ensure that the employees are connected amongst each other as well, leaders must ensure that the former are engaged in day to day team building activities that can be done at their respective homes, out of their workspaces. This may include activities such as cooking contests, yoga, and meditation, or even creating some music and art spaces virtually.

  1. Empathize is an act of the wise!

During this global pandemic, people might not only be going through a physical or financial crisis but also a mental health crisis. The constant need to upskill themselves and making ends meet may cause tremendous pressure on the current workforce. Leaders need to understand and ensure that they empathize with them and give constant support and assurance when it comes to their job security and other safety measures.

  1. Be prepared for the new normal!!

There was a time when the only motivation to wake up early was to get ready for work and reach the office on time. But nowadays, work from home and virtual spaces being the new normal, perception of the employees will soon change towards the rigidity in their organizations. Leaders must ensure that when this happens, they are well-equipped with the various alternatives they can offer to their talent, keeping in mind all those costs they have to pay in return.

  1. Recognition increases retention:

In times like these, the survival of the fittest makes complete sense. And that can only be done while preserving the most important asset of any organization, i.e. the human. Recognize and value their work, and ensure that they know about it. Design employee recognition programs and ensure the right fit. Because once this is over, all they will remember is how well you treated them in the worst possible scenario. Create your impact dexterously.

  1. Plan and let go of the negativity:

Times are uncertain. Our online space is already filled with negative headlines that break our day. What any good leader must ensure is an action plan for any kind of future possibilities. Also, encourage your employees to plan out their day to day activities in advance, keep a regular check on them, and create a positive space in the organization.


“What cannot be cured, must be endured”. If we have to endure then why not do it cheerfully. Every leader needs to take the situation in their hands and turn this threat into an opportunity to grow in their respective industries. Talent management is the door to a healthy organization and that should not be forgotten, neither today or any day!!!

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