North East Recruitment insights. Recruitment expert Alan Metcalfe

The Importance of Employee Retention

The Importance of Employee Retention by Alan Metcalfe

So as we start the final quarter of 2021 and look forward to a brand new year, what are the main challenges for businesses? Well, across the board is the shortage of staff. Every sector in the North East is suffering; whether it is customer service, hospitality, engineering and manufacturing or IT, the story is the same. Yes, Brexit has had a considerable effect, but so has Covid, with self-isolation having the most significant effect on productivity and output. According to the experts, the North East is still reporting around 10,000 cases per week – and this is severely hitting the workplace. Would you also believe that the North East has the second-highest employment rate in the country behind London, no wonder it is so difficult to find the staff you want.

Employers, in my view, need to reconsider their strategy for recruitment. New staff come at a cost, and this usually results in salary increases. It is a candidate-driven marketplace, after all. Once you have excellent staff members, you need to keep them and switch some of the focus towards employee retention, so many companies lose staff in the first six months of employment, and frankly, this doesn’t help anyone. So how do we keep our teams together without recreating the wheel or paying enormous wages?

One tried and tested method for employee retention is to consider your employee benefits and schemes or improve those in place. 75% of employees reported that they’re more likely to stay with their employer because of their benefits program (Willis Towers Watson)

The question then is, what do employees value as a benefit? In a post COVID environment, people are more conscious of a work-life balance. 52% of UK employees said they feel closer to their families, having worked from home during the pandemic. Eight in ten people stated a work-life balance would be a key consideration when looking for their next role (Future Strategy Club, FSC). With those facts in mind, employers should embrace a shift in approach to match to bolster their employee retention. The latest Office for National Statistics report acts as further evidence to employees change in mindset, stating that the current average hours worked per week ranges from 31.9 in London and 29.3 in the North East. Much lower than we would probably expect. So, we can see a cause and a trend in the labour market.

Justin Small, CEO and Founder of Future Strategy Club, said: “Lockdown and the way that we see work has changed immeasurably and surprisingly quickly throughout the course of 2020 and into 2021.”

“Working from home and flexible working was already growing in popularity but the past year has put that growth on steroids. [Covid-19] showed all the worse parts of the traditional working structure, so it is not surprising that so many people have wanted to make changes to their environments permanently.”

“[Employers] need to be careful to accommodate their employees’ needs and concerns otherwise, talented individuals will be drawn towards going it alone or jumping ship, causing repercussions for businesses that may be on the edge of surviving and going under.”


Employee benefits

So, what are the benefits we can offer which will help with work-life balance, helping our employee retention? And what other features could we provide to employees to encourage loyalty? Let’s start with work-life balance:

  • Comprehensive health, mental health, wellness and dental insurance packages
  • Flexitime
  • Telecommuting (working remotely)
  • In-work creches or child-care provision
  • Life insurance

We as employers can empathise values of our companies through schemes too and show we are invested in them. This addresses the primary reason employers are unhappy at work. According to an Employee Happiness and Statistics report for Q2 2021, 69% of employees who said they were unhappy at work said they feel underappreciated. You can counter this by offering:

  • Gym reimbursements
  • Cycle to work schemes
  • All employee car schemes
  • Bonus schemes
  • Dress down days
  • In-office dinners
  • Training and development

Adjusting your benefit schemes won’t have a high impact on salaries. Usually, employees won’t actually mind accepting a salary package that is a little lower if they have accompanying perks which bolster it. The bottom point in the above list is key and something we strongly believe in at Zenith, I would advise developing your current employees and look at taking apprentices, who in my view are very capable and extremely loyal, it is time to change and to move forward – why do the same things we did yesterday and expect different results… it doesn’t happen. Upskill and re-train, re-skill, and retain.

Read Alan’s pervious blog article and our other resources here.