We have been hearing a lot recently about future skills shortages in our region, mainly due to planned developments in the engineering, pharma and nuclear sectors but there is no doubt that there will be a knock on effect on the wider business community as these large scale projects look to recruit support and ancillary staff as well as technical specialists.

This may become a particular problem for our region as we move towards 2020, but it is not an isolated issue. The 2015 CIPD/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey (R&TP) reported that 77% of companies surveyed had problems retaining staff.  88% of employers said that they had devised initiatives to improve staff retention and many large organisations employ specialists to tackle problems as part of their HR provision.

In a recent survey by banking firm Kalixa Pro , 49 per cent of 2,000 workers surveyed said that they hated their job so much that they were considering changing careers. Seven out of ten of them intended to find more rewarding careers , one in five surveyed found their work meaningless and stressful, and a quarter of those said that as a result they were ‘poor employees’.

For small and medium sized business, the problems can be intensified due to the extent of effort required in time, energy and money to recruit the right people for your business in the first place and the effect a disengaged employee can have rest of the staff.

Having a robust recruitment process that gives an honest representation of the person and job required will help narrow the odds of finding  good candidates that ‘fit’ with you and your company values and are more likely to stay for the long term.

Once people have joined your business, here are some thoughts on activities and approaches that may help you retain them in your business for the future:

Autonomy: find ways to help your employees to feel empowered and give them the opportunity to contribute to decision making process.

Meaningful work: Regardless of their job level, people want to derive meaning from their work and feel that they are making a worthwhile contribution. Mix the routine tasks up if possible; don’t routinely assign the same jobs to the same person if you can easily provide some variety.

Flexibility: encourage flexibility in benefits and working arrangements where possible. If you employ the right people there is no reason why productivity can’t be maintained whilst offering a flexible approach.

Career growth: Show employees how they can build up valuable skills, reach their potential and progress their careers. If it is appropriate, encourage and help them to draw up a career development plan.

Belief in the leadership and the company: Having faith in the business owners leadership and the businesses future can give employees confidence and encourage greater commitment to the organisation, which in turn can boost staff retention. Be clear about what you want to achieve and how the employee can help you get there. Keep your staff informed about what is happening with the company – don’t let rumours take over. If there are problems or set-backs, let them know.

Reward and recognition: You may not be able to compete with the remuneration offered by large organisations but it is important that your employees feel that they are being rewarded fairly for the work they are carrying out. Base salary differentials may be offset by your approach to other things such as flexible working opportunities. It is key to treat everyone on the company with fairness when it comes to pay.  Perceived unfairness in the distribution of rewards is very likely to lead to resignations.

Recognition: Recognising employees for their contribution in other ways than remuneration (from staff recognition schemes, to congratulatory emails, a mention in your newsletter or a simple pat on the back for a job well done) are effective in demonstrating that you value your staff.

Set clear expectations and goals:  Be sure you have job descriptions so your employees know what is required of them.  If there are changes that need to be made, don’t expect them to learn that by osmosis.  You must communicate directly and clearly.  Good employees want to please you, but they need to know what it is they need to do to make that happen.

Create an open and honest work environment.  Give feedback on work performed and be willing to listen to any concerns raised by your employees. Make time for face to face discussions about progress or work related concerns that come up.   Be open and listen to new ideas or suggestions for problem-solving.

The picture we have painted here is that in essence, if you can create an environment that makes your employees feel like an asset to your company where they are fairly rewarded and recognised for their contribution then you will increase the potential to retain them for the future. This is an excellent foundation for you to build your employer brand.

Recent  work has suggested that there are some delicate nuances between the generations and what motivates them. For example, at a recent conference in New York, E&Y found that the   generation of young professionals are more motivated by:

Interesting work:  don’t want repetitive drudgery and will soon leave if the work does not keep them interested.
Good pay rates: cash may not be their stated priority, but by not living with their parents they face higher monthly costs than any previous generations.
Flexibility: about how and where they work. They value making their own choices about how they work, and want to be judged on what they deliver, not how long they spend in the office.
Feedback: used to instant information, and they want to know how they are doing and how to improve.
For the so called Generation Y  (people born between the early 1980s and 2000s) , a survey by the iOpener Institute for People and Performance found no correlation between pay levels and the intentions of Generation Y respondents to stay on at their current organisation. It also found that d Generation Y respondents were much more likely to remain where they were if they believed in their organisation’s social or economic purpose, had pride in it, and felt able to recommend it to a friend.

The implications are clear for businesses seeking to attract and retain the best young professionals. Rather than simply dangling the carrot of pay and reward, employers should think about the nature of their business, their aims and objectives, and the purpose of the work itself. Striving to make these engaging, interesting and meaningful may be a far greater incentive to young talent than traditional remuneration.

For further advice, please get in touch with Julia or Angela.