A heated war for talent continues to roil the financial services industry. Blackstone doubling its London footprint, investment banks hiking wages and relaxing hours, and a spike in white collar workers eager to leave for greener pastures are evidence that talent retention should be top of mind for every firm. Let’s return to an interview with  Rocki Howard, Chief People and Equity Officer of The Mom Project for takeaways.

“You need to be able to show people that they have a path in the organization,” Howard says, “That you’re interested in their personal development.”

Alongside development opportunities, workers prize flexible work schedules. Even corporate professionals in client-facing roles can optimize productivity by allocating a segment of the day to in-person or office hour work, perhaps even splitting roles between two employees seeking part-time work. Employers need to ask themselves how much facetime is actually required as opposed to conforming to past standards, says Howard.

Top talent also gravitates towards businesses that invest in development. At the Mom Project, for instance, workers get a learning stipend that can be applied toward courses outside of “core” work function areas, with no condition placed on grades earned. That kind of open-ended support for employee development shows commitment to the person, not just the bottom line.

Managing those commitments means evaluating line managers on a holistic basis. Leaders shouldn’t just be measured based on quantifiable KPIs, but on how they deliver for employees. That means working on developing alternate pathways for promotion to reflect the talent base’s preferences. A reluctance to attend happy hours, for instance, shouldn’t delay advancement when a growing number of workers abstain from drink. Nor should frequent travel be mandatory to hit performance milestones given potential family constraints.

The brave new world of talent retention requires innovation in policy and managerial flexibility.

Brandon Zero