What can enterprises do without their star performers? Nothing much really. That explains why issues like talent management and talent war are very hot on every forward-looking organisation's plate.

They have realised that the creativity and innovations needed to survive beyond turbulent periods can only come from the employees and not machines. This has resulted in very vibrant human resources management units in such organisations.

A management consultant and the Chairperson, FastCompany, United States, Mr. Charles Fishman in his article, 'The War for Talent', published on www.fastcompany.com, writes that the search for the best and the brightest will become a constant, costly battle, a fight with no final victory.

Citing a year-long study conducted by a team from McKinsey & Co., where 77 companies and almost 6,000 managers and executives were involved, he states, 'the most important corporate resource over the next 20 years will be talent: smart, sophisticated businesspeople who are technologically literate, globally astute, and operationally agile. And even as the demand for talent goes up, the supply of it will be going down.'

According to him, not only will companies have to devise more imaginative hiring practices; they will also have to work harder to keep their best people. 'In the new economy, competition is global, capital is abundant, ideas are developed quickly and cheaply, and people are willing to change jobs often. In that kind of environment, all that matters is talent. Talent wins.'

Another HR professional, Mr. Charles Oladimeji, believes that employers do not have choice but to hang to their top performers since they constitute the best workforce. 'They use their intellectual capabilities, effort and energy to the advantage of the organisation. In that case, the employers must necessarily hang on to them to be able to withstand competition,' he adds.

This trends means that companies may soon begin to lose faces, and employees get bold enough to make all sorts of demands.

However, experts say that it can still be a win-win situation, especially if organisations take the right steps.

The Managing Director of Insolitus Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Barbara Lawrence, offers some common ways to ensure that top talents are happy. 'Send them on broadening assignments; very common in multinationals, where such people are sent to other parts of the world on 'cross posting' assignments. They learn and are exposed to more about their organisations and they often return to more senior jobs in their country at the end of their assignments,' she says.

She adds that offering such valued employee stock options and shares, performance bonuses, higher salaries- particularly if they have special skills and disciplines which demand in the industry and more than supply- will yield good results.

But organisations do not want to appear desperate in this regard and Oladimeji has a way out. He states, 'They should provide opportunities for the employees to develop their skills and move on in their chosen careers, empower them by assigning to them interesting jobs that give them responsibility and authority, provide appropriate working tools and facilities, where promotions are not feasible, explore sideways moves that vary experience through job rotation.'

The Managing Director of Georgetown Consulting, Mr. Chi Chi Okonjo, also believes that organisations will be doing themselves good when they treat their best talents right. 'Star performers always want to feel appreciated and recognised and this must be done,' he says. Organisations, he says, can achieve this goal by providing a mixture of incentives. 'If share options are possible then there should be a structure to accommodate them. Also, increased responsibility and a sense of ownership will work,' he adds.

However, Oladimeji urges such organisations to avoid such pitfalls as discriminatory and unfair employee practices, evaluating employees on the results achieved and how achieved and not on the number of hours put in. 'They must ensure participation in decision making and corporate direction strategy,' he adds.

He says effective performance requires vision, focus, resilience and energy. And that as a result, work performance cannot be efficient and effective without a balance to body, soul and spirit.

He insists that the employers must be committed to providing work-life balance whereby the employees should be able to maintain a balance between work, hobbies, family, sports, religion and others.

'The truth is that the most effective and productive employees are those who do the work they enjoy, are challenged, have access to the necessary resources to meet that challenge, have control over how they work, receive recognition, rewards and compensated based on the effort they put forth and feel their life outside work is respected and valued. I think it was Kemmons Wilson who said that the most successful people are those who take pride in their work and pride in their family,' He states.

Lawrence, who is an organisational development and effectiveness consultant, has a way out for organisations that will not want to have problems in their bid to retain the hot guys.

For one, she advises that they should always have a back up for any star employee just in case he/she walks. 'He should train and groom others and early too,' she insists.

'Organisations should also Identify all critical positions and ensure that more than one person can provide the key service in these areas and have good knowledge management framework so that a star performer does not take away everything learned and done for the company,' she concludes.