One of the biggest issues currently facing UK businesses is the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ – the huge numbers of employees leaving their jobs in pursuit of other opportunities. Recent research revealed almost a quarter of UK employees are planning on leaving their current job in the next few months. Burn out following increased working hours during the pandemic, a shift in priorities to a greater focus on wellbeing and a global talent shortage are all contributing factors to this mass exodus. So how are businesses planning ahead for this upheaval in the job market? And how can SMEs best mitigate against staffing shortages?
Many businesses have already responded to the crisis by increasing recruitment spend. Whilst this may be necessary, it is costly and does not address high levels of turnover or protect existing skills within a company. It may take months to replace staff, and in smaller businesses that gap can have a significant impact on revenue. It is for this reason that investing in retention is crucial. Employers should be making changes to support the employees they already have as a key part of a successful long-term resourcing strategy.
So what should employers be doing to retain staff and reduce resignation rates? Here are some key policies that can make a big difference:
Invest in training
A lack of learning and development opportunities will often drive employees away – in fact, almost 1 in 4 cite it as the main reason for leaving a past job. A feeling of growing and developing is key to job satisfaction so investing in training plays an essential role in retaining staff for any size of business.
Furthermore, effective staff training will increase efficiency. It may even allow a business to fill in any skills gaps without having to go through the expensive hiring process. Plus, if there is a need to hire, a strong learning and development program will make your business more attractive to employees in a jobs market where they hold the cards.
Quality over quantity
Making the decision to invest in skills is an excellent first step towards increasing retention rates. However, it is also important to ensure that any training is effective, closely tailored to company needs and flexible. Additionally, it’s important to provide a diverse mix of lessons including short, bite sized, training that can be integrated into staff work days, as well as longer courses for those that want to dive in even deeper into a specific topic. In today’s increasingly hybrid workplace, it is also vital that this training can be completed anywhere, so it’s critical that businesses invest in the correct technology to enable this.
Choosing the right type of training is a key consideration. Technical and digital skills training can help fill knowledge gaps in a company, but soft skills training is equally important. Organisational or leadership skills might be a more pressing business priority, so it is important that employers take the time to consider what is right for their company.
A majority (57%) of workers now say that the ability to work flexibly is extremely important to them; a number that is expected to grow. Many businesses have honed remote working practises over the past two years, allowing them to offer flexible working to staff. With flexible working increasingly common, employers that insist upon a rigid nine to five in the office may find that existing staff or potential candidates start to look elsewhere. Allowing employees to continue with a hybrid approach demonstrates that an employer prioritises work life balance. Additionally, creating a culture that embraces and empowers learning and a mindset of curiosity will work wonders for employee morale and retention.
Consider company culture
Company culture is also crucial for attracting and retaining staff. Creating a culture where employees feel appreciated and part of a team strengthens their ties to the business. Simple steps can make a big difference – for example, leaders showing visible appreciation for their staff, or communicating openly and frequently with their employees.
A focus on retention means putting staff at the heart of business decisions. Investing in quality training and development, allowing flexible working and creating a strong company culture will go a long way towards creating a business that staff want to work for. The businesses that do so will be the ones who thrive despite the Great Resignation.