Talent Circles

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to Retain Your Knowledge Workers #HRTechConf

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

This is part one of a two part series on recruiting and retaining knowledge workers.

When it comes to your most valuable employees, these knowledge workers are high in demand and short in supply. Defined by Peter Drucker in 1959, knowledge workers are a person or persons who creates, exchanges, works with and manages knowledge or information. It’s their brains not brawns which are sought after by employers and used to create a competitive advantage. They are one of your organization’s most valuable human capital assets and it’s important to create a strategy to retain those assets, is it not?

Basic economics tells us that when demand is high, we pay a monetary premium for the product, information and services for the product or in this case knowledge we seek and knowledge workers are in high demand with low supply. Seems like everywhere I turn in Silicon Valley companies are seeking developers, engineers, data scientists and analysts who are experts in their particular fields and experts agree that the demand will only increase putting these candidates in the driver seat. These knowledge workers we employ are probably some of the best in the business. And it’s likely that they impact our organization in untold ways, which is why it’s even more important than before to keep them from seeking greener pastures at somewhere else or worse yet our competition.

Competitors are also targeting these knowledge workers will full force. Recruiters are connecting with them on LinkedIn, being chummy at cocktail receptions and monitoring their whereabouts and activities on the web looking for the slightest indication that they might be in the market to work somewhere new.
  • Offer Position Rotation Programs. Knowledge workers like to lean and absorb. They like knowledge, and more importantly they like to be challenged in an academic and information sense. Keep them interested, engaged and learning at your workplace. 
  • Foster Innovation. There is nothing worse as someone who enjoys ideas and outside the box thinking that having your creativity stifled whether it’s a bad boss, being bogged down in workplace processes or feeling like your work and ideas aren’t important in the work you are doing. 
  • Focus on Management. Experts like Associate Professor, Beth Bechk at the University of California believe that manager styles are important in retaining our knowledge class. She and others suggest taking a matrix management approach focused on being a coach and less of a boss in order to retain your best and brightest employees.
The real key to retaining your knowledge worker starts with how you treat and engage your employees, regardless of level, skill or their importance at your organization. Knowledge workers like every other group of employees assist your organization in driving sales and revenue which are key to staying a profitable company.

Join me for part 2 of the knowledge worker series as we discuss best practices in how to recruit your knowledge workers away from your competition.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s an author who writes at Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @blogging4jobs

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