Retaining Talent in Tricky Times
Manager Retaining Staff

Retaining Talent in Tricky Times

Talent is a hot topic right now. Sourcing talent, retaining talent, growing talent. The current post covid labour market is unusual, leading many people to reconsider what’s important in their lives, from family and free time to working for an employer that rewards and recognises them as an individual. With millions of workers rethinking what work means to them and how they want to be valued by their employers, the current trend of job hopping could just be getting started – beyond the initial waves of record-setting turnover reported in some industries and regions.


So How Do We Keep Our Best People?

Ideally, our workforces would be made up of motivated, engaged employees. So what does an engaged person look like? Well, they are committed to delivering, thrive on challenge, have high energy, positive people with a can-do attitude. Engaged employees are satisfied with their jobs and enjoy their work, take pride in their company, and believe that their employer values their contributions.

For retaining talent and staff generally, we need to understand what pulls an individual to stay and what pushes them away. Understanding why people leave is a good start in solidifying your retention strategy.


Why Do People Leave?

People generally stay with a company if the pay, working conditions and developmental opportunities are equal to or greater than the contributions asked of them. But people are individuals and therefore identifying these risk factors and those who are susceptible to them, makes crucial business sense.

Employees tender their resignations and move on for all sorts of reasons. Some find a new position or are poached into a new one, others may follow a partner who has been transferred to a different location. Some reach retirement age, some quit on impulse, and some simply decide they no longer need a job – all forms of “Voluntary Turnover”. One thing to consider is the actual environment that they are working in. What is your workplace culture? Does your environment facilitate positive growth?

Leaving due to redundancy or dismissal is a form of “Involuntary turnover”.

Exit interviews are one mechanism organisations can use effectively to identify common reasons for leaving; helping them spot a pattern. Be careful though – does the response always fit your data? An overly long commute, perhaps. The actuality could be, that the drive is not the problem but that time away from the family is. You could resolve this through flexible or remote working.


Past / Present

Before the pandemic, competitors in your local area would look to dislodge the talent from nearby similar organisations and tempt them across the road. You can’t prevent poaching, but it is possible to increase their reluctance to jump ship.  However, in these post Covid times, where remote working was successfully operating in most organisations, virtually joining an organisation on enhanced family friendly terms, could well be the tipping point top talent is holding out for. In short, think big, think flexible and sell yourselves as an organisation committed to your workforce. This will more than pay you back.


Drivers of Retention

It all begins with recruitment

Recruitment practices can strongly influence turnover, and considerable research shows that presenting applicants with a realistic job preview during the recruitment process has a positive effect on the retention of new hires. Additionally, identifying the cultural characteristics and the strategic aspects you want to emphasise also helps in retaining talent.  It goes without saying, we are all looking for our ‘tribe’, someone that shares similar values to us. A similar vision. Finding candidates that resonate with your Company and its mission statement all helps with retention in the long run.

Be on the lookout for long term candidates. Look for evidence of the following:

  1. Long term commitment to a Company
  2. Loyalty and engagement and perseverance top ride a company’s trajectory, good or bad
  3. External evidence of commitment – e.g. volunteering for a good cause or being part of a sports team

Socialization Turnover is often higher among new employees. Socialization practices—delivered via a strategic onboarding and assimilation program—can help new hires become embedded in the company and thus more likely to stay. These practices include formal and informal activities that help people get to know one another, and the assignment of more-seasoned employees or “buddies”, as role models for new hires.


Compensation and rewards

It’s a tempting response to increase new starter pay levels when competing with others to attract the best talent. Of course, you should remain competitive and catch the eye of the talent you wish to attract but a short-term gain can also lead to a long-term pain; driving a gap between your new starts and your loyal stayers. Loyal retain-ees don’t want to see all that bonus pay and profit being diverted towards new staff.

Managing Fair treatment by a manager is the most important determinant of retention. This would lead a company to focus on management development and communication skill-building.


Development / Investment / Career progression

Investing in your employees is one way to enhance commitment and retention. This doesn’t have to be purely financial. Think creatively and inline with the culture you want to promote.



Never underestimate the effectiveness of continuous learning. A commitment to training is viewed by an employee as the company investing in their worth and subsequently becomes a strong incentive to stay. This is especially true if training leads to progression, as in the care, tech or construction sectors.


Keep Flexible

Hybrid working is frequently topping the wants list of new employees. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the success and value in companies embracing flexible and remote mechanisms of working. Providing satisfaction for employees in the form of a better work life balance only helps in retaining talented staff and increasing the competitiveness and attractiveness of your organisation to the scarce talent pool. It’s also important to correctly estimate the needs of parents. Parents without childcare may be forced to leave if not provided with flexibility.

Managing remote teams presents unique challenges and should be considered before you implement any remote working. If you are confident in your ability to manage from a distance, then remote working can benefit you hugely. Reduced cost, better work-life balance for employees, win win.



Investing time in your employees is hugely beneficial. This can be on a 1-1 basis through formal or informal catch ups, giving them feedback, learning about the individuals – what are their motivators, their risk factors. Employees operate more productively when they feel valued and appreciated.


Career progression

Longevity in a business is great, making people feel confident and secure. Giving them an opportunity to use and share this ‘jungle knowledge’ is equally important. Providing career ladder opportunities – in any direction – is motivating. Knowing that opportunities are present to attain greater compensation, greater responsibility within an organisation means people are more likely to stay.


So, in conclusion, talent management helps employees feel engaged, skilled and motivated. It allows them to work in parallel with the company’s goals, which in turn, increases organisational performance and employee satisfaction.  In a labour market currently driven by candidates, as opposed to the employers, attracting, nurturing, and rewarding your talent is an investment many organisations can not chose to ignore. Investing in talent management is surely beneficial for the company, now the question is, how will companies implement it?

If you’re concerned about your retaining talent, get in touch. We regularly advice our HR clients with retention and reward issues. Contact us via our online form, or by calling us on: 0330 400 5490.


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