May 19, 2020

Talent retention: why traditional methods are no longer enough

Leah Netabai
5 min
 Talent retention: why traditional methods are no longer enough

Business Chief sits down with Jen Scherler Gormley, HR Lead (UK), Cisco to discuss strategies to retain source and develop talent. 

Currently in the UK, 43% of employers feel it has become more difficult to fill job vacancies over the last 12 months, with 31% seeing salary increases of more than 2% being used as an incentive for recruitment and retention of talent. 
When it comes to recruitment and talent retention, Jen Scherler Gormley, HR Lead (UK), Cisco, believes that the flatline approach of annual appraisals and ratings for objectives and development simply isn’t enough. Performance ratings disenfranchise a large proportion of employees, creating year long labels regardless of a person’s change in performance over the next 12 months at a company. “For us, recruitment and talent management is about empowering people to be their best selves, as well as bringing everyone together to create an environment where individuals and teams can thrive. Five years ago, we revived our performance management processes by ditching annual appraisals and ratings.” Gormley further comments that the organisation’s move to eliminate annual appraisals from its talent strategy in 2015 has yielded positive results for its talent retention, seeing higher engagement from existing employees as well as providing a strong differentiator for attracting new talent. 

Being ‘conscious’ is an important part of workplace culture, states Gormley. With 59% of UK workers looking to move jobs as a result of being undervalued, having no career progression and having unsupportive managers. With this in mind, it is important to focus on three key entwined areas: environment, the unique characteristics of the organisation and the specific experience of individuals, in order to manage and lead a positive culture. To incorporate this into its organisation, Cisco has implemented a digital platform that enables weekly connections in relation to what support is required and what individuals loved and loathed about the week, to aid its elimination of annual appraisals. “We call this ‘check-in’,” says Gormley. “It has been adopted at all levels of the organisation - including our CEO and executive leadership team - providing important information to drive a different kind of conversation with team members providing greater regularity, as well as allowing in the moment redirection of work, support and continuous coaching. Performance is ultimately personal to each individual and it is important that continuous conversations take place between employees and their leaders.” 

According to Gormley, a workplace’s culture should be built on a foundation of accountability, empowerment and the freedom to speak out to achieve goals within an organisation. Transparency and empowerment is a driving force to build trust within an organisation and is a key element of ensuring that talent is retained and thriving.


When looking to source talent, Gormley highlights the importance of combining human connection with innovation to not only develop employees, but also the business. Industries are continuously changing and adapting, and organisations shouldn’t shy away from utilising multiple forms of employment such as apprenticeship programmes, alongside traditional employment methods, as well as utilising transferable skills. “There is no one answer to this, but we’ve found that the human connection intertwined with innovation, is fundamental to building and maintaining a culture of continuous learning as well as attracting talent that aligns with our values.”

Inclusion and diversity is essential to innovation. When sourcing, maintaining and retaining talent, it is key to ensure an organisation is inclusive. “We have found that certain language used in job profiles could dissuade female talent from applying. Therefore, we have implemented a tool that analyses the language in our job descriptions to ensure that we are attractive to a diverse pool of potential applicants. In addition, every year, we take part in Girls in ICT Day to encourage a higher percentage of girls to become a part of the industry by utilising technology to communicate with and support girls across the globe,” says Gormley. “Fundamentally, inclusion is a bridge to connect diverse perspectives, providing a platform for new ideas and inspiring innovation.”

Internal changes within a company can put a strain on organisations. With this in mind Gormley believes it is important to maintain frequent communication between leaders and team members to ensure that workplace culture doesn’t get left behind in the process. Companies should instead utilise internal changes to enhance communication and manage its talent. “We care a lot about our culture. We are driving for an environment where healthy conversations happen between individuals and teams, where no one is isolated and each person feels able to proactively support their colleagues,” says Gormely, who feels its implementation at Cisco provides a level of transparency she has not seen in other companies, resulting in greater engagement from employees to actively participate in conversations regarding experience and individual growth.

Ultimately, when it comes to talent retention, traditional methods are no longer enough to encourage employees to stay long term within a company. Companies need to be more conscious of their employees by maintaining human connection and communication, in order to drive accountability, empowerment and freedom within an organisation. As a result of incorporating these foundation into a company, organisations should see an increase in innovation and inclusion, as well as experiencing greater engagement when it comes to individual growth and performance. 

For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.

Follow Business Chief on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Share article

Jun 14, 2021

5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly

Kate Birch
3 min
Heading up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy is winning awards and leading with diversity

Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.

Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills. 

What do you do, in a nutshell?

I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.

How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?

I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.

They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?

The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless. 

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.


Share article