In an employee market, are employers doing enough – not only to attract new talent, but to retain existing staff too?

5 Oct 21 by Charlotte Morris
Recruiting and retaining staff

Charlotte Morris, senior solicitor for esphr, explains how the current fuel crisis has highlighted long standing complaints from HGV drivers amid concerns about pay and working conditions – and how this is not the only industry eager to increase employee numbers.

The Sunday Times recently reported that there are currently more than a million job vacancies across Britain, the highest on record in a number of industries such as the care sector, construction, finance and even fruit picking. Recruitment is clearly an important and competitive activity for employers at present making it all the more important for lateral thinking and consideration of what employers can offer candidates.

We are seeing clients from many industries, desperately trying to recruit new employees and competing against one another in terms of job offers and salaries. However, offering higher pay may only be a short-term solution. Employers may find it unsustainable to maintain those high salaries in the longer term and might find themselves dealing with equal pay issues as existing employees question how their salaries compare. Ultimately, this may result in other team members looking at the job market to achieve a better package for themselves. Therefore, consideration should be given to what else employers can offer to set them apart from competitors – not only to attract the best talent, but to retain them in a competitive job market.

There is also a balance to be struck between attracting new people, while looking after existing talent. If this is not achieved, there is a danger that it could create a perpetual recruitment cycle which can prove more time consuming and costly than investing in and retaining existing team members in the first place. In an employee market, it is all the more important to retain experienced people within a business – both in terms of preserving knowledge but also to prevent exacerbating an already difficult recruitment market.

So, what can employers do?

The first step – as with many employee relations issues – is to communicate with staff. Appraisals are a great starting point to understand what staff want both currently and in the terms of future career progression. Businesses are then able to consider how they will work with employees to assist them in reaching their career aspirations within the organisation.

Social media sites such as LinkedIn mean that employees are constantly made aware of the successes of their peers. If employers don’t address what team members want from their career, they may see their only option being to leave the organisation and take the next step in their career with a new employer.  That’s why, if you have staff showing potential for future progression, it’s a good idea to let them know and discuss ways that they can develop these skills – both to the benefit of the individual and the wider organisation.

Consider the company as a whole and what you can offer employees which they may not get elsewhere. What is your USP? Do you look after those who look after your business? The Government puts in place statutory minimums for certain benefits including, national minimum wage, statutory maternity leave, paid holiday entitlement and sick pay. However, is offering employees the least you are legally permitted to get away with really going to incentivise them to stay and feel valued? 

Consider what you are trying to achieve when setting out pay and benefits levels, if you are doing it because you have to, this is likely to be how employees view this also. However, if you offer enhancements, these can save the business in potentially replacing staff members or having to offer higher salaries to attract suitable candidates, buying you loyalty from existing employees and acting as a great marketing tool to help attract new team members – particularly in industries where the statutory minimum is still the standard offering.

One of the issues highlighted by some HGV drivers is their working conditions, not only in terms of the benefits from their employer, but also in a wider sense – the loss of transport cafes, lack of available overnight parking and low standard facilities whilst out on the road. Organisations across all industries can learn from these accounts, looking outside of contracts and benefits policies and at the facilities available to staff at all points during their duties, both inside and outside of the workplace. For example, if you have field-based staff and hotel stays are required, are employees expected to pay for these and claim back the expense or will the company pay directly? Funding hotel stays in this way can alleviate some financial strain on the staff member. Ensuring that the provided accommodation is clean and comfortable is another reasonable expectation. 

While recruitment and selection needs for businesses change and evolve over time, so too do the requirements of employees. Maintaining continuous communication with staff can help employers to strike the right balance between the needs of the company and those of their employees.

Recruiting key talent is a high priority for businesses, however, maintaining existing people via positive employee relations can help provide employers with a productive, positive and stable workforce – minimising the need for continuous recruitment and also reducing the risk of grievances resulting from new team members coming in with greater pay, terms and benefits to their peers.

At esphr we can not only advise and support employers once grievances or resignations are received, but we can also proactively help employers to identify ways to retain talent and maintain positive employee relations.

 


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Post by Charlotte Morris

Senior solicitor, ESP Law Ltd

Charlotte qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and has over 10 years’ experience of handling a varied and complex caseload, with focus on the retail and hospitality, transport and logistics and manufacturing sectors. She is also experienced within the education sector not only in advising clients but providing training to other lawyers within the sector and volunteering as a school governor for several years. Having undertaken a large litigation caseload throughout her career, Charlotte takes a commercial approach to her advice, enabling customers to manage risks and make informed decisions.