Friday, 17 December 2021 09:31

Attracting, Recruiting & Retaining Employees Pt 3

Retention: The final part of our three-part blog.

You may think that you’ve done all the hard work in attracting and recruiting your employees, but the job isn’t over. Holding on to your hard-won talent is the final piece of the puzzle. Here, in the concluding part or our three-part blog, we look at employee retention; some of the reasons behind why staff leave and some measures you can take to hold onto the good ones.

To understand how to retain employees, we need to be aware of the reasons why they leave. We have two groups to consider; those who we have recently recruited and established employees who have been with the company for a while. Research tells us the reasons why they leave are quite different.

For very new recruits, we might even consider that their first few days and weeks are actually still part of the recruitment process. As the recruiter, have you made the right choice? Did your recruitment process, from job description to advertisement to selection, really hone down on your perfect recruit, or did you pick the best of a bad bunch because you were desperate to fill a vacancy? New recruits have little loyalty and if they find themselves out of their depth, choosing to ‘fail quickly’ may be a more attractive option than trying to tough it out or risk not making it through probation.

Early impressions can be the most impactful so is your onboarding process thorough? In addition to a job induction do you have a wider, company induction that gives new recruits a full understanding of the culture, what the organisation does and who their internal customers are? Are they made to feel welcome? Is any required training already mapped out and scheduled?

Some reports claim that as many as 50% of new recruits aren’t working out. Recruitment is a costly exercise so investment in good recruitment and onboarding processes is time well spent.

Amongst established employees, we’re more likely to see retention rates to be driven by economic factors. Better retention in times of economic uncertainty and higher unemployment, and a more transient workforce when times are good and competition for talent is high. We could argue that the latter is true now, but we have also have the Covid factor to consider.

Your retention policies and practices need to move with the times and reflect current trends and meet the needs of an ever-changing economy and workforce. Where good rates of pay and job security have historically featured as reasons to stay with a company, in the current climate, flexibility has become a key factor.

Furthermore, we shouldn’t make the mistake that the elements that make a company attractive to join are the same as those that make it attractive to remain. Employees get older, economic pressures change and priorities shift. A blanket approach may not always be effective in a staff retention plan and employers may have to cater for the needs of individuals.

Whilst the reasons why employees leave their employers varies significantly, we are seeing some common and reoccurring themes.

Poor work/life balance and no flexibility: This is something that has become much more prevalent since the pandemic. With many staff either working from home, or just being at home on furlough, there have been numerous reports of people re-evaluating how they spend their time. Having a taste of more home and family time has highlighted to many that perhaps they’ve got the balance wrong. Employers who are not willing to accommodate flexible and hybrid working are putting themselves at risk of higher attrition rates.

Burn-out: For some, the pandemic has been non-stop. Even where work has not continued or increased, as it has in some industries, the effort of adapting working practices has been physically draining for employers and employees alike. Feelings of being overworked and exhausted are driving some workers to less taxing job roles.

Lack of recognition: This can be a major factor with or without the pandemic. Being recognised for a job well done is a huge motivator for individuals that drives job satisfaction and employee engagement. Employees don’t always expect tangible rewards either. Extra money or holiday is nice but a simple pat on the pack can go a long way. Employee recognition schemes can also be effective and inexpensive to implement.

Lack of advancement/development opportunities: No-one wants to have a dead-end job. If employees can’t see a way to progress, they’re much more likely to move on to a new employer. It’s not always possible to maintain an upwardly progressive workforce but that’s no reason not to invest in employees and continue their development through training. A sideways move may be enough to stimulate challenge and preserve engagement.

Bad Bosses: This covers a multitude of sins, but it’s widely recognised that poor management is a huge contributor to staff attrition and some reports cite it as the main reason that employees quit. Dissatisfaction may stem from poor Director level decisions, from an inadequately trained line manager or from an over-zealous micro-manager. With the amount of funded leadership training available, including from us, there’s ample opportunity to have properly trained managers.

Poor Workforce Planning: An employer who fails to plan for leavers or expansion will need existing employees to work harder and/or longer hours whilst waiting for vacancies to be filled. This will create a lack of confidence in the management’s ability to run the business and bring into question it’s longevity. Overworked employees may feel they are part of a sinking ship and choose to jump rather than go down with it.

Competitor pay and benefits: It’s always going to be a challenge to prevent employees leaving for pay and benefits that you are unable to match, but already knowing your employees does give you an advantage. Aligning your social responsibilities and ethical approach with that of your employees could make it harder for them to cut the chord. Individuals generally are more social and environmentally aware and so knowing they work for a principled employer could give you the edge.

Sometimes, you’re not going to win. It’s well documented that so called millennials don’t necessarily expect to stay in the same job or with the same employer for long periods. Instead they expect to have many jobs of relatively short terms. In this instance employers may be better off planning for this rather than fighting it. Maximise their potential productivity and don’t hang on to underperformers or those who are too needy.

At the other end of the scale, older employees will relinquish obligations as children grow older and leave home, and as mortgages are finally paid off. Responsibilities may come in the form of taking care of elderly parents. Rather than lose their skills and knowledge entirely, this is a good opportunity to offer part-time and flexible working arrangements. Mentoring a colleague to take over their duties could be a good motivator for keeping them interested and will mean that knowledge is handed down rather than being lost entirely.

It’s clear that throughout all three processes of attraction, recruitment and retention, employers need to be thinking outside the box and be creative in their approach. Our seminar on 18 January 2022 will expand on the points raised and help to give your organisation the edge in acquiring and retaining new talent to grow and expand your businesses.

Our forthcoming Attraction, Recruitment and Retention seminar on Tuesday 18th January has now been moved online owing to the spread of the Omicron variant. We'll still be sharing oceans of information from ourselves and guest speakers about how to recruit and retain an inclusive and diverse workforce. Book your place now. The seminar is now free however you can still make a charitable donation of you wish. A maximum of two delegates per organisation please.

For further help, support or advice or to discuss training, call us on 01452 331331 or drop us an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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