Employee retention | How to avoid shedding staff post-lockdown

Written on 19 June 2021

In the modern age, talent retention is a science. Whether it’s due to competitor attraction, the rapidly growing popularity of gig work, career changes, or just a disgruntled employee, the threat of losing staff is more real and pervasive than ever before.

Factor in a worldwide pandemic and a corporate world turned upside down, and this threat is intensified even further. In fact, new research from Personio has shown that UK businesses could collectively face a talent exodus of up to £17 billion in the next year, with 38% of employees looking to change roles. And with the rise of remote working removing previous geographical constraints, employees are very much back in the driving seat.

Naturally, then, the coming months will be critical – businesses must continue implementing agile and progressive strategies in order to maintain the stability of their workforce post-pandemic. In this article, we discuss four factors which may prompt employees to jump ship post-pandemic so that you can preserve your retention rate in the months ahead. 

Ways of working

In a statement made in March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned UK businesses that workers would “vote with their feet” and quit their jobs if compelled to continue working remotely.

Whilst this is merely speculation and may not be the case for many businesses, the sentiment should still prompt employers to assess the feeling among their workforces and find a fair, practical solution.

In most cases, a one-size-fits all solution will simply not work as, inevitably, people’s needs and desires will differ. For instance, those with young children may appreciate more time at home due to childcare arrangements, whereas Millennial and Gen-Z workers may appreciate the more social, collaborative environment of a shared space. Of course, it’s never this black and white; parents, for example, could just as easily be itching to get back to the office in order to better separate work and home life.

In many ways, the situation also boils down to work-life balance. Each employee will have a formula that works for them, and the freedom to fulfill that is likely to have a positive impact on their happiness and engagement.

In fact, in Personio’s research, 22% of respondents cited ‘poor work-life balance’ as a reason for wanting to find a new role. What’s more, Bloomberg reports that as the drive to get people back into offices begins, employees who have embraced remote working are quitting instead of giving up working from home.

With this in mind, employers would be wise to factor people’s varying preferences into their post-pandemic planning. Otherwise, employees may be tempted to search for alternative employment with companies that do offer the flexibility or working model they are looking for. 

After all, what’s worse: having to compromise your favoured way of working to better accommodate your staff, or having to replace them altogether?

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Pay and other benefits

Whilst benefits and pay have always been central to the role of HR, the modern corporate world dictates that this must now be a much finer balance than ever before. Company culture has been placed under the microscope in recent years, and this has compelled businesses to be more mindful and more competitive in that regard.

And of course, the pandemic has exacerbated this. Many organisations have been forced to freeze bonuses, pay rises, and benefits packages, and this will inevitably leave some employees disgruntled.

This is once again reflected in the Personio research, with ‘pay freeze/cut’ (23%) and ‘no bonus’ (15%) both emerging as popular rationales for departure among respondents.

Whilst finances may currently be tight, this data should encourage employers to make adjustments and find ways to cut other overheads in order to make room for more competitive remuneration.

This will also provide employers with an outlet to bolster wellbeing culture. For instance, benefits such as extra holidays days, private healthcare and discounted gym memberships could be integrated as part of a new and improved package.

Remember, benefits don’t have to cost the earth. Flexible working is consistently voted one of the most-valued employee benefits, so if you can’t afford pay rises or other cash rewards, there’s all the more reason to try and accommodate staff’s working preferences as much as possible.

Invariably, bolstering your benefits package will boost employee satisfaction and is likely to curb turnover.

Employer brand

In a working world that fosters a wider range of generations (and therefore, values and desires) than ever before, HR directors are increasingly paying attention to the notion of employer brand.

Individuals are becoming increasingly aware of their employers’ values, whether it’s environmental, social, or simply being compassionate and responsible as an organisation.

Once again, the pandemic has placed this under even greater scrutiny. Whilst devastating, coronavirus has offered organisations the opportunity to demonstrate an element of progressiveness in navigating the disruption. Naturally, some have fared better than others.

But it’s not too late for employers to seize this opportunity. Not only can employee value proposition be bolstered through a more compassionate and diplomatic approach to people, but this is also an optimal time for businesses to define and strengthen their vision for the future, unlocking a greater sense of pride and commitment among the workforce.

This can manifest in a number of different ways. When it comes to corporate responsibility, employers can demonstrate a more compassionate and progressive outlook by running initiatives such as staff charity events, or company-wide efforts to tackle climate change and environmental damage.

On the employee value proposition side of things, employers will need to take a step back and identify what’s currently missing, in addition to what would most effectively meet the needs of the workforce. This may come in the form of learning and development (L&D), benefits, or improvements to office culture.

Whatever this process looks like, employers must first familiarise themselves with one key fact: employer brand matters in the modern age, especially when it comes to talent retention.

In fact, to cite just one of many examples, one LinkedIn study found that investment in employer brand can slash company turnover rates by 28%.

Career progression

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is vital that employers provide ample opportunity for progression and development among their workforces.

In fact, a lack of these opportunities was found to be the number one reason for looking for a new role among Personio’s respondents, with 29% citing this.

Again, this is symptomatic of the modern and rapidly changing corporate world. Occupation is no longer perceived as merely an outlet for financial stability; rather, passion is now a much more common driver.

By virtue of this, there is now a stronger desire among modern employees to hone their craft and become experts in their field. But crucially, there is an awareness that this is no longer entirely their own responsibility; in the 21st century, it’s a two-way street.

What’s more, this is arguably an area that also encompasses employer brand. An organisation is much more likely to be perceived as a compassionate, progressive employer if it displays a willingness to support its employees in growing and flourishing. In that sense, businesses can kill two birds with one stone by revising their L&D strategy.

Whether it’s through providing a clear, visualised career path for the individual, or arranging a series of training days across the workforce, tackling L&D is likely to have a seismic effect on happiness, performance, and ultimately retention.

"We are delighted with the service and support from Ellis Whittam. Professional and timely responses with concise and informative guidance to help us make employee decisions in the best interests of the business. We now consider the team at Ellis Whittam an extension of our HR service and Business Support Team.

Having Ellis Whittam on board gives us the confidence to navigate the employment and HR challenges we need to overcome."

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Whether you’re in need of advice around flexible working, looking for expert HR training, or in need of more hands-on support with strategic tasks such as job evaluation, pay benchmarking and organisational design, our HR and Employment Law specialists are on hand to help.

To discuss your needs and discover how Ellis Whittam can help you to navigate your post-pandemic workforce challenges, retain your employees and achieve your organisational goals in 2021, call 0345 226 8393 or request you free consultation using the button below.

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