Following lockdown, many businesses are having to work hard to keep their valued employees. Experiencing the challenge at Clear Vision and recognising it as an ongoing issue for our clients, we asked our trusted HR partner Julie Brewster to provide her advice and insights.

Any employer who has advertised a job recently will know that there is no huge pool of talent to draw from. Reports show that around 70,000 people have left the job market. There are several reasons why – self-employment, retirement, illness, family reasons.

Recruiters also report that staff are not as willing to move around just in case furlough returns – if they moved jobs, they may not be eligible for furlough payments. These fears have all added to an already tight job market.

As employers it’s vital you consider ways to keep the staff you value.

Flexible working and hybrid working we all know about, but I would urge those asking for this, as well as employers, to consider the wider implications. How will knowledge pass from employee to employee as freely if those with the most knowledge are working from home?   When I started in HR, I learnt so much just listening to conversations around me in the office, from being able to build good working relationships with colleagues so I had the confidence to talk through queries or ask questions. I fear the younger generation are in danger of missing out on this.

Have a read through the points below and before you dismiss them just remember, the employers currently advertising vacancies are promising a lot to attract talent. It’s much easier for you to make a few changes now than have to start looking for new staff because the current ones have left.

So what can you do to keep your top talent?

1. Flexibility

I’ve mentioned flexible working above, but flexibility is more than that. You should also monitor the workload and ask: ‘Is this achievable within working hours?’ Staff want a better work life balance, so if you are asking them to do a 50 hour a week role in 37 hours then you are in danger of losing your staff.

2. Wellbeing

Support your managers. Do they have the skills to lead and manage their team? Are they confident about what they can and can’t say as managers?

We regularly look at absence, but what about presenteeism? Are people working late because they don’t want to do the walk of shame as the first person out of the office? (I’ve worked in an environment like that – it’s very stressful.)

For much of the last 24 months, we lost control over various aspects of our lives. Whilst for some getting control again couldn’t come soon enough, for others there is an element of fear. You may need to support your staff as you empower them to make decisions again.

3. Fairness

Nothing creates an uncomfortable atmosphere more than perceived unfairness.

“She gets paid more than me, it’s unfair.”

“He gets better benefits than me, that’s not fair.”

I dealt with a case years ago, where staff were ready to down tools all because a member of staff had Private Medical Insurance. The staff decided the person must have PMI as a benefit and as they didn’t, that was unfair. Once I got to the bottom of what the unpleasantness that had taken over the office was about, it was easy to deal with. No members of staff had Private Medical Insurance. This was something the individual had by other means.

Things like this may seem silly, but believe me, perceived pay and benefit unfairness – whether true or not – leads to resignations.

Be open about benefits; provide the same opportunities for all staff if you can.

4. Development and Progression

Manage expectations. Don’t allow staff to think they can all be Directors after a few years. Progress is rarely a direct route now, it’s more a winding road. The twists and turns often give a depth of experience that a direct route can’t.  Sideways moves can bring huge benefits to the individual and the company, so it’s important you let all staff know about every vacancy.

5. Talk

In every single staff survey I have been part of – and it’s a large number – communication always comes out in the ‘need to do better’ category.

Staff always feel they are not communicated with enough. They don’t just want to be told what is happening, they want to feel included. They may have the solution to the issue that’s keeping you awake at night. Whatever you do, whether its good news or bad news, it is so much easier with employee buy-in and that comes through talking and consulting with your staff.

I love the story about the cleaner who when asked what his role was, he didn’t say “I clean the floors”. He said: “I help put people on the moon.” He felt included, he was part of a team.

There are no guarantees that if you do all the above, you will retain your staff. There are times when for them, it is time to move on to gain further skills or to do something different. But it’s a lot easier to accept if you know you have done everything you could.

If you would like information on HR Support, or my Confident Manager Programme – designed to give you or your managers the confidence and knowledge to lead your team – please get in touch on julie@hrsupport4u.com

Julie Brewster

Director

HR Support 4U Ltd.

Want to get our news updates and insights for business owners straight to your inbox? Sign up to receive our emails.