A serious talent shortage is impacting sectors across the UK economy, and this has only been worsened by the large number of employees who are leaving their jobs and seeking new opportunities. The reasons for these resignations are numerous, from career re-evaluations in the wake of the pandemic, to talent poaching by rapidly expanding companies, to higher salary expectations amid candidate scarcity. 

The upshot of this trend is clear: if you are an employer or a line manager, you need to be thinking about how to keep your top performers. But retaining your stars will require close attention to multiple different elements of your employer value proposition (EVP). So, how do you develop an EVP that keeps your staff bought into your vision? To take a deeper dive into the topic, we conducted a survey of approximately 2000 UK workers across various sectors. Here, we share some of the key insights, as well as strategies to keep your best employees.

All eyes on salaries 

In the UK, salaries are going up across the board. Of course, some of these pay rises may be offset by recent cost-of-living increases - but in many cases this will only enhance ‘grass is greener on the other side’ thinking, making higher salaries with new employers more appealing. At PageGroup, our consultants have consistently found that candidates are willing to leave a role to gain a higher salary, and that companies are willing to pay.

This has been confirmed by our recent candidate survey, which returned some particularly stark figures around salaries: 

  • Nearly 1/3 of all respondents, and nearly 1/2 of respondents aged 18-34, were looking for new roles. 
  • 40% of respondents looking to move were unhappy with their current salaries.

And what about those that aren’t looking for new roles? Of the respondents who said they weren’t currently seeking new job opportunities, half said that a large enough pay rise could convince them. Clearly, even employers with happy teams can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to salaries. Analysing the data, Doug Rode, Managing Director for UK and Ireland at PageGroup, commented:

Our consultants are regularly seeing employers offering big pay rises to top candidates. With so many businesses looking to expand and grow in 2022, there are an abundance of opportunities for skilled professionals to land huge raises if they are open to leaving. The easiest way to avoid losing your top talent is to ensure that you are paying them the market rate.

At PageGroup, we keep close track of average salaries in different sectors and regions of the country. To find out what you need to be paying your people to remain competitive, check out our 2022 salary guides here

Flexible working is non-negotiable

The term flexible working refers to a range of different benefits, such the freedom to spend part or all of the week working from home, adjustable start and finish times, compressed hours, and more. In a post-pandemic world, to offer these benefits is no longer the exception, but the rule. On this, Doug said: 

Companies who do not offer some degree of flexible working are finding it harder and harder to compete for top talent, and even those that offer only one or two days per week working remotely are struggling in many instances.

Of course, ways of working differ drastically between different sectors. In technology, remote working was commonplace even before the pandemic, whereas in a sector like manufacturing, fully remote working is essentially impossible for many roles. Nonetheless, the results of our survey pointed to a strong preference for hybrid working across many sectors, including traditionally more inflexible ones. 

For example, among candidates who were looking for new roles:

  • 1/5 said their current employers didn’t give them enough flexibility
  • This number rose to 1/4 among healthcare professionals and 1/3 among engineering professionals  

Although salary is emerging as the key driver of resignations and job acceptances, flexibility is still essential to attracting top talent. For this reason, employers that don’t offer flexible working will be danger of losing their best people to competitors who are willing to make these allowances. 

Don’t neglect employee engagement 

Keeping your people engaged and happy has always been important, but never more so than now in a hybrid working world. When the whole team is in the office, it is far easier to see who might be struggling or losing motivation. But when your employees are spending a substantial amount of their time working remotely, it can be more challenging to keep track of their attitude, their contentment, and their commitment to their work. 

Here are a few things that can make a big difference when it comes to employee retention and help you retain those key team members that you don’t want to lose: 

  • Provide training and development opportunities, including accreditations and certifications which will help your people progress in their careers.
  • Offer a clear progression roadmap to motivate them, and a personal development plan to give them clear, positive actions.
  • Get to know your people and where possible give them work which you know will be interesting and appealing for them.

Finally, make sure that you are recognising and calling out good work when you see it. Don’t underestimate the impact this can have. In our survey, 1/4 of candidates who were looking for a new role said they didn’t get the recognition they deserved. Even the most dedicated and self-motivated employees will feel discourages if the only feedback they receive is negative. Similarly, praise and positive feedback will give uninspired employees a second wind. 

How can PageGroup help your business? 

At PageGroup, our consultants work closely with leading businesses to help them with all their talent needs, including attraction, retention, and development in a competitive market. To arrange an introductory conversation, get in touch here.

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