19th Jul, 2021

Alister Houghton
Author
Alister Houghton

With restrictions being eased, businesses need to develop candidate attraction and employee retention strategies to prepare for the ‘great resignation’.

Microsoft’s ‘2021 Work Trend Index’ report states that more than 40% of the global workforce are planning to leave their current employer this year, with a survey by HR software firm Personio highlighting that a similar proportion of UK and Irish workers will resign once their respective economies have strengthened.

This frenzied period of employee movement has already begun in the United States. With a wave of employee departures set to hit organisations across the UK, Personio estimates that increased staff turnover could cost UK and Irish SMEs more than £5.8 billion. Therefore, it’s vital managers are ready for the impact this could have on their business and teams.

How to retain your employees

When focusing on employee retention, the first thing you need to discover is why your professionals might choose to leave.

Your retention strategy needs to address employee concerns, reassuring them that you are listening to their feedback and committing to making the improvements they want.

Claire Harvey

Managing Director - Core Network, Reed

Dr Anthony Klotz, Associate Professor of Management at Texas A&M University, coined the term ‘great resignation’. He has observed two main factors for this swathe of departures. The first is simply pent-up demand from people waiting for economic conditions to stabilise before leaving a role.

The second factor relates to a combination of burnout and employer behaviour during the pandemic – both of which are within an organisation’s control.

Microsoft’s survey found that almost one-fifth of employees said that their employer didn’t care about their work-life balance and 37% believed their company was asking too much of them at the present time. 54% stated that they were overworked, while 39% described themselves as feeling exhausted.

This tallies with Reed’s ‘Skills for success’ survey carried out last November, which found that more people were looking for a new job during the pandemic, citing reasons as varied as wanting a better work-life balance (35%), not feeling valued by their employer (34%), re-evaluating priorities (33%) and learning valuable skills that could get them a better job elsewhere (21%).

With this swathe of reasons for employees wanting to leave, understanding which factors are most prevalent across your organisation is key to creating successful employee retention strategies. Simply getting feedback from your employees is an easy first step, as Claire Harvey, Reed’s Managing Director – Core Network, explains:

"If you haven’t already provided your workforce with regular opportunities to give feedback through surveys or other mediums, you need to start doing it as soon as you can. It’s an essential step when looking to retain your employees - if you don’t know what their concerns are, you can’t take the right steps to address them.

“Additionally, when team members do leave, I’d urge you conduct thorough exit interviews to find out why. While it may be too late to prevent the team member leaving, it will provide you with valuable information which you can use to help retain other employees."

Once you have ascertained employees’ main concerns, you need to go about remedying them. Personio’s report found that 45% of HR decision makers are concerned about staff leaving, yet only a quarter stated that talent retention is an organisational priority over the next 12 months.

Any retention strategy will be unique to every organisation, as each employer faces different hurdles to retaining talent. What is important is that whatever you chose to implement seeks to address employee concerns and works for your organisation.

Claire says: “Every organisation is different. We’ve seen Microsoft giving employees a $1,500 pandemic bonus and Bumble give employees a week off to prevent burnout. Those are great ideas, but not every company is able to offer those types of incentives.

“Your retention strategy needs to address employee concerns, reassuring them that you are listening to their feedback and committing to making the improvements they want.”

Whether it’s improving work-life balance, investing in wellbeing or offering clear career development pathways, you build credit with your existing and potential employees by demonstrating that you value your workforce’s opinions.

Top candidate attraction strategies

One person’s challenge is another’s opportunity. Those organisations that have emerged from the pandemic with enhanced employer brands are now able to cash in by attracting top professionals.

And while specific talent attraction strategies will differ between organisations, there are four broad areas where you can develop stand-out offerings to attract prospective employees.

Be flexible over how and where professionals work

The impact of work-from-home instructions has fundamentally changed how we view the workplace. Remote working has gone from a benefit to an expectation – with organisations that recognise this gaining an edge when it comes to attracting candidates.

Claire notes: “Greater flexibility over how and where people work has been by far the most common question candidates raise when we contact them about vacancies. What I would caution here is that employees desire flexibility, not a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Just as some people don’t want to spend five days in the office, many also don’t want to spend five days working remotely. You also need to consider professionals who are unable to work remotely. It’s flexibility and choice which are attractive to candidates, whether that translates into remote working, having access to the workplace when needed, or operating a core hours model.”

Enable employees to have an improved work-life balance and support their wellbeing

The pandemic has given many an opportunity to rethink the importance of work within their lives. Combine this with the number of professionals who are already feeling burned out, and organisations placing an emphasis on assisting employees with wellbeing and work-life balance are among those attracting the most desirable professionals.

Widespread remote working has impacted both ends of the spectrum. While it has allowed professionals to spend more time at home with their families, the ‘always on’ nature of being digitally connected has led many to work much longer hours than if they were in their place of work.

Employers who are mindful of the amount of time and have demonstrable commitment to ensuring they look after their employees’ wellbeing will be looked upon favourably by those looking for jobs.

Provide career development opportunities

Having time to reflect has also led many professionals to reassess where their careers are heading. This means employers who offer opportunities for learning and development within roles are becoming increasingly attractive.

Employers should see this as an investment, as Roger Mason, Learning Solutions Director at Reed, details: “Employers who provide their employees with opportunities to learn and develop will help them to progress and feel like a valued member of the team. This in turn will lead to better morale, motivation and ultimately a higher return on investment from your employee.”

Those organisations who do not offer their staff the chance to develop will be left playing catch-up when trying to secure driven professionals who will add value.

Offer competitive salaries

Salaries can often be overlooked. While many professionals’ priorities have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, offering a competitive salary is still crucial to stay at the top of your game.

“We’ve just gone through a period where many professionals have had promised pay rises deferred, taken pay cuts, have been furloughed or even lost their jobs,” says Claire. “Offering a generous salary is a simple, effective way of attracting top candidates to your role.”

With the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting that earnings could rise by an average of 8% in 2021, benchmarking what a competitive salary is in your sector can be the difference between hiring the ideal candidate or watching them join a competitor.



If you need advice on implementing a talent attraction or retention strategy, contact one of our recruitment experts now.