How to Retain Staff – The Great Resignation

The post pandemic has shown that huge swathes of the workforce have or are resigning in their droves and what is emerging is a birds-eye view on employers across sectors as to why they are finding it so difficult to retain great staff or even attract new candidates into the business.

Recruitment is becoming more and more difficult, and many recruiters and businesses alike are seeing the landscape of recruitment change in real time. Pre-pandemic levels saw a multitude of candidates per role whereas now recruiters are turning down roles to recruit.

What needs to be assessed is why?

As a seasoned recruiter myself what is becoming more and more apparent is businesses are not meeting the demands of job seekers resulting in candidates looking further afield in their job search or even looking outside their resident country for work.

A large number of people are becoming digital nomads due to the increase in facilities, technology accessibility and the glamorisation of the mobile lifestyle via social media platforms.  It is reported that those who wish to avoid office life in favour of a nomadic lifestyle, in the US alone the numbers tripled from 4.8 million in 2018 to 15.5 million in 2021.

The pandemic has led many to question their lifestyle and seemingly given many the push to leave roles behind. The world has become truly accessible via online working and remote roles; although predicted to go out of fashion, remote working is going from strength to strength. Many candidates do not want to do the 9-5 lifestyle and a few companies are catching on particularly those sensitive to mental health awareness and the benefits remote working brings to individuals. 


So, what can business owners do to ensure they attract and retain staff.

The focus appears to be on work-life balance, a popular outcome to many staff surveys appears to be that employers are popular when they offer benefits such as flexible hours, the ability to work nomadically, sabbaticals and the possibility to even choose your own working hours. Business owners who promote flexibility but do not actually ‘walk the walk’ and follow through with their promises, find gaps in the workforce are emerging at a rapid rate.

During a pulse piece for a client, a sabbatical or ability to earn a sabbatical was an extremely popular request and again, this feeds into the idea that people’s ideals have shifted and want balance whereby they work to live rather than live to work.

What has changed is that once upon a time, employees were competing with each other to be retained whereas now employers are having to compete with other employers to retain staff.

A question every employer should ask themselves is, would they want to work for themselves?

Really assess the positives and negatives and think about what you have offer to staff to make their working life a more positive experience. It is a mistake to think that only monetary award is worth considering. Many employees are looking for recognition rather than a pay rise, small things such as giving their birthday as an additional holiday. The ability to flexibly work and plan their own hours shows trust and recognition in an impactful way.

It is well studied and accepted that happy staff are far more productive and efficient on a day-to-day basis. The WHO estimates that depression and anxiety costs businesses over 1 trillion annually in lost productivity.

A major area to consider is how the leaders of the business are cultivating and nurturing a positive work environment. What employers should consider is that evidence suggests that a positive environment and a high well-being focus will translate into a happy workforce.

Practical ways for employer to move forward with a retention strategy

  1. Carry out a staff survey to ascertain what staff really want.
  2. Hold a culture focus meeting to bring leadership together to look at ways to improve culture and set action points.
  3. Review of working practises and the way the working day is structured.
  4. Invite and collaborate with staff to see how you could incorporate some flexible initiatives.
  5. Review your focus on well-being and how you can positively impact mental health within the workplace.

We can assist you with any aspect of a retention strategy and can share the benefit of our extensive experience across a wide range of sectors. Please get in touch for a no obligation discussion. 01983 897003.

This article was written by Rachel Mehlfeld, specialist employment and HR Solicitor who is client service manager for our HR Harbour Members.

Photo by mk. s on Unsplash

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