Staff retention– focus on existing workforce

Written by Andrea Frith

As we emerge from the Covid pandemic and the UK staff shortage spreads across most sectors, it is time to look at retaining existing workforces.

An organisation’s ability to hang onto its talent has huge ramifications on how the future maps out and high employee turnover creates endless disruptions. This combined with the cost of replacing talent, both in monetary and time measures should put this subject high on the board rooms agenda. Before putting measures in place to stop regular resignations it is important to understand why employees are leaving - how do you find out this information?

  1. Exit interviews: These can provide invaluable insight indicating if there are any quick fixes that can be implemented or give information that might need some longer-term consideration.
  2. Employee surveys: Listen to employees and evaluate the results. Encourage open-door exchanges and a supportive environment to ensure honest answers and opinions are given.
  3. Evaluate HR data. Are there any common trends emerging? Spend time looking at the data to identify if there is a pattern – time of year, individual site, or location etc.

There are some common reasons that can be addressed, and this does not always stem from pay and benefits on offer, these can be:

  • Lack of recognition- For most, being seen to be valued and recognised is as big a motivator as a financial reward. Investment in training to line managers on how to recognise achievements and keeping employees engaged is important.
  • Being included and kept informed of company decisions
  • Flexible working options – start and finish times. Working from home, working in an office. It is not always a given that people want to work from home or have the facilities to effectively work from their homes. It may be necessary to the over available workspace.
  • Salary and benefits – this should be investigated in detail as benefits can be a deal-breaker (20 days holiday is not a benefit but a legal requirement)
  • Lack of opportunity – Identify top talent and focus on their career path, offer training, promote further opportunities
  • Not happy with current management – employees often leave the management and not the organisation. “People work for people – they do not work for businesses” Is the company culture attracting and retaining employees?
  • Time for a change – Sometimes it is just that time and there may be little that can be done. Keep things positive, you may want to welcome back this employee at a later stage.

Attracting new talent into the business is important and currently will be a focus however it is equally important to recognise and nurture the existing workforce especially if departments are running on reduced staff numbers sometimes adding additional pressures. Don’t be caught out by just recruiting talent, maintain the existing pool.

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