Leicestershire HR consultancy Breedon Consulting, has received an influx of enquiries from SME owners looking for guidance on how to retain employees and help prevent staff from being poached by the competition amid ‘The Great Resignation’.

During 2021 it was reported that 1 in 4 workers left their jobs* in search of better benefits, flexibility, and higher salaries as the last two years propelled employees to revaluate their work and personal values.

The large scale of employees resigning and moving elsewhere has posed a huge threat for businesses reliant on their skilled workforce – therefore, it is becoming increasingly evident that competitors are actively seeking to poach staff due to such a limited pool of candidates.

To help navigate ‘The Great Resignation’, the HR experts at Breedon Consulting explain that retaining employees is of the upmost importance and will prove a lot less costly than hiring new talent in the long term.

Bev Brady, operations director at Breedon Consulting, comments: “The volume at which people have been changing roles is unprecedented, alongside a large spike in business hiring for new positions. Quite simply, the talent pool just isn’t large enough, especially in specific industries. Therefore, it’s extremely important businesses seek to retain staff where possible, which is also a much cheaper alternative than the recruitment process. Businesses must adapt to the changes propelled by the pandemic, otherwise they’ll be at risk of losing their best workers.

“Whether it’s providing new career development opportunities, financial relief perks or other incentives, the key is to understand the different motivators for your employees. An employee engagement survey is a good way of encouraging teams to express any areas with which they are not happy.”

“Addressing minor concerns before they become big issues is always better than trying to act after the horse has bolted.”

Here are six steps employees can take to help boost employee retention:

  1. Recruitment process

Retaining talent always begins with the recruitment process. Although advertising a job vacancy is straightforward, hiring the right people is one of the most challenging tasks employers face.

It’s important to not over promise to candidates at the first stage without the intention to carry forward those promises once the employee has been hired. Setting transparent expectations of the role and their responsibilities is a must.

Asking the right questions is also essential when recruiting. It is easy to ask the same interview questions out of habit but to find the right person, employers need to start asking those challenging questions to ensure the applicant has researched the business, the position and holds the correct skills.

Although employers should remain vigilant of gaps in applicants’ knowledge, identifying candidates who exhibit research abilities, will fill those gaps when the need arises. Carrying out profiling exercises is a great way to improve your likelihood of recruiting the right person who will fit your business.

2. Incentives

With the battle between the cost-of-living rising and some SME’s remaining unable to compete with larger businesses to increase salaries, considering alternative incentives can ensure you are supporting your employees in a meaningful way whilst helping to relieve them financially.

Examples could include paying for parking permits or transport, offering remote working to save expenses or signing up to employee benefit and reward platforms such as Perkbox, for employees to receive discounts on retail, entertainment and travel. Incentives such as gym memberships, health insurance, dental plans are all becoming an expectation.

3. Company culture

The way an organisation operates and communicates its values helps to attract and retain talented people who want to be part of a great place to work, and who will in turn thrive in the business. The key to retaining talent is enjoyment and satisfaction – if the employee enjoys and feels proud to be a part of your vision, they will remain engaged and feel a sense of community.

Organising opportunities for staff to interact is key for establishing a healthy and positive company culture. Lunches, after work drinks or volunteer opportunities are a great place to start.

4. Wellbeing programmes

It was reported that 822,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2020/21 in the UK, with 449,000 of those attributed to the effects of the pandemic.**

Looking after employee mental health and wellbeing should be of paramount importance to business owners, along with open communication in the workplace to ensure workers feel supported.

In response, Breedon Consulting has partnered with health and wellbeing coaches Wellbeing4life, to offer the Breedon Workplace Wellbeing Programme, to provide SMEs the opportunity to access a variety of content such as first aid for mental health awareness training, manager check-ins, 1:1 coaching and workshops.

This holistic style approach can translate to reductions in sickness absence, presenteeism and staff turnover and increases in productivity and creativity.

5. Flexibility

Office-based staff have become accustomed to the benefits of working from home, such as financial relief from travel costs and avoiding the added commuting time.

Flexibility will continue to remain crucial when retaining staff, as employees request remote working days to remain part of their working life, despite the government lifting all restrictions.

Employers should agree what the expectations are for working from home and flexible working, whilst keeping in mind that the more trust and freedom you can give employees to find the right hours and right working location, the more chance you have to retain them.

6. Invest in upskilling and personal development

According to Challenger Hiring Survey, 70% of employers who are actively hiring report a skills shortage.***

It is essential to communicate the vision and direction of the company with your employees. On an individual level talk to them about how they will play their part in this and how their career could develop within this plan.

Offer employees budgets for training and books, to help expand their knowledge.

By promoting continuous learning and development, by using tools such as skills gap analysis, employers can boost employees job satisfaction, remain competitive, and bring out the full potential of its existing workforce as part of its company culture.

If you require any advice on recruitment, retention or issues surrounding employees being poached by your competitors, Breedon Consulting is offering free 15-minute consultations for employers.