How businesses can act to retain talent

How businesses can act to retain talent

The last 12 months have been some of the most challenging for companies in the race to secure talent. Mass departures, as part of the great resignation, have seen a fifth of UK adults leave their jobs through choice and 4.5 million Americans quitting in November alone.

Every sector has been hit by resignations, but healthcare, retail and hospitality firms, where wages are typically lower, are particularly struggling to find skilled workers. And with no sign of the situation changing anytime soon, every company must ask itself what it is doing to ensure it can attract and retain talent.

The cause

It is difficult to pin down a single reason for these mass resignations, but the pandemic remains a significant factor. It has forced all of us to spend a significant amount of time away from offices and be more flexible about our normal place of work.

The way in which companies have adapted to a remote workforce is remarkable. But, at the same time, it has afforded people the opportunity to re-evaluate their priorities; the desire to escape the daily commute for a better work-life balance, revised career goals and aspirations, or the realisation that a better salary might be on offer elsewhere.

Crucially, the physical distance that has been put between employer and employee has meant that in many cases, corporate values and cultures have been eroded or lost, leading to employees becoming disengaged and thinking that the grass might be greener somewhere else. 

Company culture

Conveying your brand and culture to a remote workforce is challenging at the best of times. But now it is essential.

With existing employees and potential new joiners being starved of the opportunity to come to a company’s smart offices, a place steeped in corporate culture and values, people are being robbed of the chance to feel part of and connect with something organic.

And, with the majority of companies now wedded to greater flexibility in the long term, it is crucial that companies find ways to communicate with employees and make it easy for them to connect with their values and culture.

By having values to base a work culture around, businesses come across as more authentic. It not only helps workers to feel that they belong but helps businesses to identify talent that would fit their ethos, making recruitment and retention easier.

Having a strong company culture also fosters better connections across a company, bringing together people with similar mindsets and values. With employers wanting to work in a place where they feel comfortable, a clear company culture will attract more like-minded talent.

This can be crucial for more junior employees. With resignations highest amongst Millennials and particularly Gen Z, it is important that businesses do what they can to connect these increasingly important communities.

Getting on board

First impressions matter, and that’s why it is crucial that businesses get onboarding right. Before the pandemic, only one in ten employees felt their company was truly successful at onboarding. The pandemic certainly has not helped here.

The onboarding process can sometimes be overwhelming for new employees and, when you factor in the unique challenges presented by remote onboarding, the process can become alienating, making it harder for employees to connect with a company’s culture or values.

Even assuming companies get the initial onboarding process right, there are still major challenges to overcome in the first weeks and months. With an increasingly flexible workforce new employees can struggle with a lack of interaction with co-workers and lose the ability to seek help from them.

Companies must be sure to provide new workers a reassuring level of support or risk losing them to other businesses that do.

Retaining diversity

One trend that has become apparent during the last 12 months is that a higher proportion of women say they are considering leaving their jobs than men. Again, this is in part a consequence of the pandemic where working mothers found themselves increasingly having to provide care for children who were also at home.

Unfortunately, the emergence of the pandemic has caused a resurgence in inequality in the workplace. And not just between men and women. Often inequality has been felt among other communities in the workforce.

Many companies have taken giant strides taken in recent years to address issues of diversity and inclusion. But the challenges of the pandemic and an increasingly flexible and, all too often disengaged workforce, mean companies must look again at how they are addressing this.

In doing so, companies must take account of the intersectionality of the issues and not look for a solution in just one community at the risk of alienating others.

The battle for talent

For businesses to retain employees and hire new ones, they must ensure their workers feel valued and supported.

With the Great Resignation showing little signs of disappearing, recruitment, retention, and company values are crucial areas for companies to review and get right. Promoting a vibrant and inclusive culture, and really selling all that your business has to offer, is one of the most powerful ways to create an engaged and happy workforce.

By being communicative and empathetic, businesses can aim ride out the wave of resignations and put themselves in the best place to hire the most attractive talent.

Deborah Gray
Deborah Gray

Share via
Copy link