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How to retain top talent in your project management team

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Project managers are responsible for planning, directing, and completing specific projects ensuring they are completed on time and within budget. They must also identify what risks are involved in a particular project and take appropriate steps to minimise these risks.

Traditionally, project managers were mostly employed in fields such as construction and engineering. However, more organisations are recognising that project managers can improve efficiency and drive strategic change, and project managers are now sought-after in a wide variety of sectors - from education and non-profit to healthcare and technology.

The state of the UK’s project profession

Efficient project management is essential in most industries and more organisations are acknowledging the value of projects. The project profession is currently contributing around £156.5bn to the UK economy each year. The Golden Thread research found that 50 per cent of companies expect their project management work to remain the same in the next three years and 40 per cent expect it to increase. The sector is growing rapidly and there is high demand for project professionals.

Growing and retaining a talented team of employees is important in every industry and project management is no exception. Attracting top talent is a serious challenge, especially when there is a talent gap, and the job market swings heavily in favour of candidates.

How to attract and retain top talent

Attracting a skilled team of project professionals can be difficult, but it is possible with careful planning and a solid recruitment strategy.

Here are tips to help build a successful team and retain top talent:

Build a career advancement framework

A recent study revealed that 82% of employees would quit their jobs because of a lack of career progression. If you want to attract and retain top project professionals, then you must focus on their professional development and offer growth opportunities. This can involve training and certification – encouraging your team to pursue project management qualifications and certificates, complete online training or gain chartered status, will increase their future employability.

Building an effective advancement framework will provide your team with transparency and give them a sense of meaningful progression. Set out a clear framework that outlines what steps must be taken to move up the career ladder and earn a promotion. This will help to prevent your project team from becoming demotivated and looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

Offer a competitive salary

There is fierce competition for top talent and project professionals expect to be well compensated for their skills and expertise. The recent APM Salary and Market Trends Survey found that the average salary of a project professional is £47,5000 and 49 per cent earn more than £50,000 a year.  Offering a high starting salary is one of the best ways to attract the best candidates.

If you cannot afford to pay a high starting salary, then consider offering other financial perks such as performance-based bonuses, generous paid holiday allowances, or above-average pension contributions. These perks will set you apart and help you attract and retain top talent.

Provide flexible work options

Professionals are placing more value on workplace flexibility, especially since the pandemic. A global survey by EY found that “90% of respondents want flexibility in where and when they work and over half (54%) of employees would consider leaving their current job if they weren’t offered flexibility post-pandemic.”

Offering flexible work options can help you hire and retain skilled project professionals, especially when employees have families and other commitments outside of work. Flexible work makes it easier for employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance and allows them to work at a time and place when they are most productive. This should lead to higher engagement and better workplace morale.

Simplify the application process 

Create an effective application process. Make it as easy as possible for candidates to apply for your roles and utilise recruitment technology to streamline the application process and enhance the candidate experience.

According to experts at Arctic Shores: “53% of candidates have been put off from pursuing an opportunity by a poor interview experience.” You can improve the interview experience by creating standardised interview questions, providing candidates with pre-interview information, and offering feedback after the interview.


Organisations are recognising the value of projects and there is an increasing demand for project professionals. Companies should be aware of the talent gap in the project profession and find ways to differentiate themselves and appeal to skilled project managers.

Try some of the above suggestions to attract and keep top talent for your project management team.

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