The UK jobs market is booming right now, with the latest data from the ONS revealing that the number of UK job vacancies from October 2020 to December 2021 rose to a new record high of 1,247,000.

For employees, this is undoubtedly great news! With so many vacancies to choose from, employees looking for a new challenge are taking the plunge. A recent survey of 6,000 workers discovered that 69% of them were feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next few months, and 24% were planning a change within three to six months.

For employers though, alarm bells are ringing. The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ shows no signs of slowing down. And, as discovered by the CIPD, a large proportion of organisations are already struggling to fill their open job vacancies.

With so many employees looking to take advantage of a vibrant jobs market, and a shortage of candidates in some sectors, employers have a real fight on their hands. Not only are they having to work harder than ever to attract the best talent, but they’re also facing an increased risk of losing their best and brightest people, too.

retain talent hr employees together

It’s a war on two fronts which many businesses may be struggling to cope with, therefore, focusing on retaining your best employees should be a priority for HR…

Talent retention: key action points for HR

Now it should be said that every organisation will experience a degree of staff churn. In the UK, the average employee turnover rate is approximately 15% a year, although this does of course vary between industries.

However, if you find it difficult to replace the staff who leave your business (perhaps due to specialist or unique skills), or your staff turnover rate is higher compared to similar businesses in your sector, examining your organisation’s talent retention strategy is an absolute must.

1. Prioritise hiring the right people for your business, not just the role

The hiring of new staff for a business is one of the most time-consuming and costly processes an HR team can go through. In fact, research from Oxford Economics revealed that replacing members of staff incurs significant costs for employers: £30,614 per employee, to be exact!  So, ensuring potential candidates not only fit the requirements of the job, but also the ethos and culture of your business is critical. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of them not hanging around for long, and all your hard work and money will be wasted.

When creating your job advertisements and conducting initial interviews, explain your company’s expectations for both the position and the person. This will mean your candidates are not only clear on the skills and responsibilities of the role, but also the ideal characteristics of the person your business needs, too.

It’s important to add here though, that it’s not just the case of ensuring someone is a good ‘culture fit’. Although evaluating if a candidate will fit a company culture is often a key component of the interview process and hiring decision, you may want to consider what they bring to the table doesn’t just add to your culture, but also helps it move in the right direction.

2. Evaluate your organisation’s onboarding process

It’s important to remember that onboarding is more than just the typical cliché of an office tour or a few days training. Onboarding is the process where your company’s new recruits are fully welcomed into your organisation, its culture and its operations. If your business has changed significantly during the pandemic but your onboarding process remains unchanged, is it still fit for purpose?

As our research found, organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. In addition, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they experienced great onboarding.

Your aim for an effective onboarding process should be to promote meaningful staff engagement – something critical in any successful retention strategy. It should also ensure essential administration activities are completed and provide your new employees with the right equipment, knowledge, understanding and support needed to carry out their job successfully.

In addition, your onboarding process can also connect your new employees with existing team members. This not only helps new starters settle into their roles quicker but can also create something of a ‘knowledge waterfall’, meaning skills and experiences built up over potentially years can be handed down to new employees.

3. Collect feedback from every level

Sometimes, the most effective ways to enhance levels of staff retention are also the simplest. Encourage leaders within your business to ask employees why they choose to stay, what their ideas are and how the employee experience could be improved. And, don’t forget to keep an eye on company reviews on social platforms such as Glassdoor or Indeed.

You can help facilitate conversations about experiences of working for your company by creating channels for employees to give their feedback, such as a shared portal or workspace, or conducting a regular employee survey. If your organisation shows itself to be both receptive to ideas and acting on them, there’s a better chance you’ll build that all-important engagement.

Also, highlight to your managers the importance of regular catchups, 1-1s or appraisals with their staff – especially with new starters. When feedback is used consistently, your employees will understand what they’re doing well and what they could improve upon – meaning there’s less chance they’ll feel in the dark or nervous about their own workplace performance.

4. Recognise the good work your employees do

No one wants to be in a job where they don’t feel valued. In fact, when we asked 1,000 employees in the UK and Ireland what would improve their own company’s culture, the majority answered improved rewards and recognition for their work.

When it comes down to it, your employees won’t stick with you if they don’t feel their hard work is being appreciated. However, if you use a consistent recognition or rewards process across your entire workforce, your employees will feel more respected and valued, making them less likely to join the throngs of the Great Resignation.

5. Help your employees grow

A lack of career progression has always been a consistent factor in people looking to leave a job, with a 2018 report by Global Talent Monitor finding that 40% of employees left a role because they couldn’t progress any further. It’s highly likely that if your employees feel they’re going nowhere, they’ll look to move on.

Although constant advancement through the ranks may not always be possible, give your employees time to attend training seminars or conferences (either virtually or in-person). Also, develop robust performance management processes include an opportunity for employees to have open discussions with their managers career development.

Helping your employees fulfil their career ambitions will also benefit your business. Enabling staff to take on more skills and responsibilities will deliver more value for your organisation and offer new abilities and competencies that can help your business evolve and grow.

6. Don’t forget the importance of exit interviews

When it comes to an employee deciding to leave your business, conducting an exit interview will give you a golden opportunity to discover what has influenced their decision. It’s at this point you’ll also have the chance to find out if there are hidden issues bubbling underneath the surface of your organisation that  employees have perhaps been unwilling to share sooner.

By identifying – and addressing – these issues you can not only make the workplace experience more rewarding for your current employees, but also make your company a more attractive proposition in the jobs market.

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.