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Strategies to Attract, Develop, and Retain High-Quality Employees in Shared Services

Having a talented pool of employees is a key success factor for any Shared Services organization to achieve in order to reach the highest levels of performance.  Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult objectives to accomplish, with the demand for top-quality talent always high both inside and outside the company.   Making this a top (and ongoing) priority for the Shared Services senior leadership team is no small investment, but it will ultimately result in a significant contribution to the long-term success of the Shared Services operation.

A recent Peeriosity PeercastTM featured a major high-tech company with decades of experience in the utilization of a Shared Services structure on a global scale.  With regional service centers located in geographic areas with a significant amount of competition for skilled employees with experience in Shared Services, it is quite a challenge to not only attract strong talent but then to also retain these employees on a long-term basis.

In addressing the need to attract the right Shared Services talent, this company utilizes a three-pronged approach:

  • Branding
    • Developing a strong reputation as a high-quality employer
    • Focusing on making Shared Services a “Great Place to Work (GPTW)”
    • Creating a challenging, fair, informal, equalitarian environment
  • Pay, Stock, Benefits
    • Very competitive total compensation package
    • Supplemental benefits (healthcare, gym, etc.)
    • Working mom flex-time
  • Talent Profiles
    • Critical competencies defined and used for expectation setting and development
    • Behavioral interviewing, including business cases
    • Student Program

Additional details were provided by the featured company around the design and use of a Finance Career Development Council, as well as their very comprehensive program to develop and retain Shared Services talent, with several examples of the actual tools they use, is shared.

The first of two iPollingTM questions related to this PeercastTM addressed what tactics, outside of compensation-related incentives, provided the most positive impact in motivating their Shared Services employees.  All four response options received a significant share of the votes, with flexible work hours/telecommuting being the most popular at 37%.  As some of the poll comments will later show, all of the tactics listed in this poll can provide major benefits to the organization, which made it difficult for the participants in the poll to express a preference.

greatest positive impact on motivating High-Quality Employees ipolling peeriosity

The second poll question looked at what the greatest threat was currently to motivating the Shared Services team.  While there was a broad range of relevant issues as response options, three of them stood out as the most prevalent.  The most popular response was a lack of a perceived career path (40%), followed by economic concerns (23%) and compensation issues (17%).  While the perception of there being a lack of a viable career path in Shared Services has been an issue for many years, it is interesting to note that it continues to be a significant factor in a large percentage of companies, even with the shift to expert services and globalization.

what do you consider the greatest threat to motivating High-Quality Employees ipolling results

Some of the member comments associated with this poll include the following:

Consumer Products & Services Member: Each person has different motivation factors, and it is important to understand them at the individual level. Overall, I stress to my team that people can gain marketable skills that can be transferred to other jobs within and/or outside the organization either from coaching, providing them with challenging projects, or training. No matter what, education cannot be taken away from a person.

Manufacturing Member: I believe most of the comments had positives as far as my team is concerned. But I feel the most positive thing, if you asked my team, is flexibility in their work schedules. We have the option to work from home one day a week when it is not the week of month-end, and they enjoy the opportunity.

Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Member: This was a really difficult poll. To choose one above the other answers to either question is tough. We use them all in Question 1 and everything in Question 2 applies. Interesting looking at the responses. Seems to reinforce that. We use all four elements for recognition, and half of the six detractors apply. It is every person and team dependent. My suggestion is a comprehensive program. Mentoring and coaching are most impactful with people moving into or up in management. For front-line associates, public recognition is powerful. For senior associates, working from home is a great incentive. Similarly, there are a lot of influences that impact morale. The role of being instruments of change brings these things with it. We are a multi-functional center, so our career pathing options are greater than most centers, but we are still dealing with the newness of change, so our client’s overall view is still clouded by the human change management issues.

Manufacturing Member: Workload can sometimes be overwhelming and does have an impact on employee morale.

While many Shared Services operations have made some excellent progress in attracting and retaining high-quality employees over the past 10-15 years, there are still many opportunities for improvement in this critical area.  As demonstrated by our feature company, many of these challenges can be overcome with the proper amount of focus and effort by the senior leadership team.

How effective are your current efforts to attract, develop and retain Shared Services employees?  Are there some aspects of your company’s approach that you may want to reconsider?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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