Blockages and Leakages: Human Talent Flow


Prof. R.Krishnamurthi
Corporate Trainer
NLP Practitioner


The title sounds paradoxical. A critical and realistic look at it will justify its importance. In our experience, as universally accepted, blockages stop leakages. The title is a metaphor from the field of water, but with a different connotation that blockages instead of stopping leakages lead to leakages. Blockages here mean hurdles and obstacles on the road to employees' effectiveness in an organization. When a talented employee leaves an organisation, they do not leave as an individual. They leave with their education, experience, exposure, enlightenment, events and friends–other talented people. As a result, an organization loses its cutting edge.

The paper explains the factors that act as blockages. This is an empirical work
. Data were collected from one hundred and seventy eight IT Professionals regarding the factors that act as blockages and pave way to the leaving of talent from an organization.

A questionnaire was sent to 410 Informational Technology Professionals across the country. Out of that 178 completed responses were received. The respondents had minimum two years to eight and above years of experience in IT Industry. They were in different positions ranging from Senior Software Engineers, Consultants, Network Administrators and Mangers.


Turnover of employees is a natural event. It is sometimes a relief when a particular employee leaves the organisation. On the other hand, the cost of losing any employee can be high because of the costs related to lost productivity, training, and the time required for recruiting a replacement.

Hiring good people is tough, but keeping them can be even tougher. The professionals streaming out of today's MBA programs are so well educated and achievement oriented that they could do well in virtually any job. But will they stay? According to noted career experts Timothy Butler and James Waldroop, people will stay, "Only if their jobs fit their deeply embedded life interests--that is, their long-held, emotionally driven passions".

A research work was carried out to identify the causes that are blockages in the way of effective performance of people. From the interpretation, seven causes are identified, as experienced by the respondents, as blockages. They are:

1. Lack of great professional and    personal satisfaction from the work.
2. Lack of excellent career growth.
3. Lack of strong culture to create a very positive work environment.
4. Inadequate training for professional and personal growth.  
5. Lack of pride in working. 
6. Unfair Appraisal System
7. Inadequate perks and benefits

Lack of great professional and personal satisfaction from the work

Professional and personal satisfaction from work are identified as factors that make a person stick to an organisation as Hewlett-Packard's Director of Education noted, "What is going to entice them away? Money? May be you can buy them for a short time, but what keeps people excited is growing and learning." It is found from the survey that 15.17% of the respondents strongly agreed and 54.49 % agreed that lack of great professional and personal satisfaction from work resulted in the flow of talent from an organization. This result shows that, "Employees" as expressed by Izzo and Withers, "today want more out of a job than a big salary." This finding is in line with the Fleet Banks' analysis that showed that "People were leaving not so much for better pay-their personal testimony notwithstanding-but for broader experience, which they thought would enhance their marketability."

Lack of excellent career growth

It is found that 14.61% of the respondents strongly agreed and 44.38 % agreed that lack of excellent career growth failed to provide an incentive to continue with the organization. While the obvious solution to the turnover problem might have been to compensate the remaining employees-say, with higher pay-the more effective and less costly solution, "Fleet Bank discovered, was to focus on employees' career opportunities within the company. Those who moved up the hierarchy, or who even made lateral moves, stayed longer. By offering better internal opportunities for career development, the bank was able to stanch much of the hemorrhaging in personnel"

Jim Sirbasku is justified when he says, "A war of talent is currently under way. One positive alternative to salary hike is to offer opportunities for personal growth." Hence organizations should get a clue from "The knowledge that an employee is looking for a new position is vitally important information to a manager."

Lack of strong culture to create a very positive work environment

"Two fast-growing trends are demanding that business leaders pay more attention to employee relations," says Drucker. Every company needs more individuals who are able to get up in the morning, go to work, and enjoy what they do all day long. People need to think of ways they can do things instead of reasons they cannot. This belief is truly accepted when 19.21% and 49.72% of the respondents strongly agreed and agreed respectively that lack of strong culture to create a very positive work environment would lead to the mobility of talent. "…companies should create a culture where employee recognition and appreciation are built into it." This information must make sense to us as McShane says, "...corporate culture assists the sense-making process. It helps employees understand organisational events. They can get on with the task at hand rather than spend time trying to figure out what is expected of them."

Inadequate training for professional and personal growth 

"Training is important because technology is developing continuously and at a fast rate. Systems and practices get outdated soon due to new discoveries in technology, including technical, managerial and behavioural aspects" (Pareek and Rao T.V). It is obvious from the interpretation of the data that 19.10% strongly agreed and 40.45% agreed that inadequate training for professional and personal growth forced employees to look for organisations where training would be a top priority. This situation is warranted as observed by Robbins, "As jobs have become more complex, the importance of employee training has increased."

The solution to remove the blockages and to stop the leakage of Human Talent is to train them to the point where you may lose them, and then you won't lose them.  The effective organisations that are genuinely interested in retaining talent can resort to Training Paradox: increasing an individual's employability outside the company simultaneously increases his or her job security and desire to stay with the current employer.

Lack of pride in working

Commitment of workforce comes from belongingness. People feel that they belong to an organisation when they can identify themselves with their organisation. Identity, as identified by Pareek and Rao is important as "Each organisation develops an identity. It has a history and a tradition. Its members may have some preferences and commitments." The response to the importance of pride in working for one's company is extremely overwhelming as 25.57% of the respondents strongly agreed that people always associated themselves with or known by their organisation as its size and fields of operations make it unique.

Unfair Appraisal System

The need for an effective performance appraisal system is justified when Robbins says "... as a key input to management's reward and punishment decisions, performance appraisals can motivate or demotivate employees." The view is substantiated when 8.47% responded very strongly and 37.29% strongly. Performance appraisal, as a development mechanism can have fundamental changes in the attitude and behaviour of the managerial personnel. Dessler advises that "...the appraisal should be central to your firm's career planning process because it provides a good business opportunity to review the person's career plans in light of his or her exhibited strengths and weaknesses."

Inadequate Perks and benefits

The critical factor that helps employer retain talent and have a cutting edge is the compensation plans available. It should be always above the industry standards. An employer should know how to reward people appropriately to get the best out of the people. 5.06% strongly agreed and 38.76% agreed that perks and benefits available in the company must influence the employees to remain. Barber & Stracksay, "Reward it appropriately-push performance-related variable compensation schemes down into the organization." The compensation system available must send the message that the people are important. "...the compensation system should communicate to the employees that they are valued" (Pareek and Rao T.V). Ghosh also opines the same view that "Employee compensation plays a key role because it is the most vital factor of employment relationship and is of critical importance to both employees and employers."

One of the main concerns of organisations today is how to attract competent people, and more importantly, how to retain them.

Presence of these factors removes blockages in the way to growth of an employee. Employers need to remove the blockages to prevent the leakages of employees. The entire study can be summarised as Employers need to recognize five key changes in workers' expectations, namely that they want to lead balanced lives, enjoy partnership with their employers, receive opportunities for personal and professional growth, be able to make a meaningful contribution to the world through their work, and experience opportunities to socialize at work.

Riesz is truly advocating the importance of 'Keeping the keepers' when he says, "When you keep your focus on the human element, the bottom line will take care of itself."

Prof. R.Krishnamurthi
Corporate Trainer
NLP Practitioner

Source: E-mail July 29, 2010



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