Attracting and retaining top talent – more complex than throwing money at a problem

When you’re an established business, recruiting top talent in all the areas you need can seem like a never-ending challenge. 

Businesses are increasingly finding they have to do more with less, and today’s top talent isn’t just looking for money but a company which aligns with their ethics, is willing to be flexible and provides them with meaningful, satisfying work.

Retaining talent is extremely valuable, especially when your products or processes are complex, so keeping your current employees happy is essential not just for those retention figures but for your company culture and employer brand.

Here’s some top tips to get you thinking about how you can ensure your business is one talent will want to join - and love to stay at.

When you are an employer it’s easy to forget about the costs your employees bear for coming into work. Our annual research shows the cost of having a job takes 16% of the average workers income – and that this is rising: the cost of having a job has gone up 20% since 2013. The biggest cost, we found, was on average commuting, followed by childcare and then food and drink.

Help your employees get a little bit more out of life
As a larger company, you may well have already embraced the flexible working trend. You probably already knows that it works both ways – you trust your employees to get the job done without clock-watching and they are more willing to stay late to finish that urgent project. With commuting costing on average £1,087 per year, are your flexible policies being fully utilised?  If you are already allowing full flexibility, it is worth looking into how much your flexible working is being used, and finding out if your managers are truly championing the practice and making it work well for everyone.

Often you’ll find some teams are working extremely well flexibly, and others are insisting on facetime when it’s not needed. This leads to pockets of presenteeism in the company, which is bad for your culture and your employees’ health, as well as creating a divide between employees who are ‘allowed’ or ‘not allowed’ to work flexibly.

Educate all your managers to understand the benefits of flexibility and ensure they enforce it, connecting it to ratings if it’s necessary.

If the work your company does allows, shift to focusing on task completion, not hours worked. You could even help alleviate travel costs by allowing some people to travel off peak – starting earlier and finishing earlier, or starting later to finish later.

Don’t be stingy with paid time off
Offer generous holiday across the ranks. There’s very little point being stingy with paid time off: you employees will be as productive, if not more so, on 30 days as they will on 22 and will still get the job done (if they are the top talent you are hiring for).

You can also consider offering life event leave – so if someone becomes a grandparent, for example, you can either gift them some leave, or even get creative and allow them to share maternity or paternity leave with the parents. This is a way to walk the talk when it comes to being family friendly.

You can also offer discounts, cashback and other deals to your employees for little to no cost with solutions like LifeWorks which also provides an employee directory and recognition based on peer recommendations.

If you have international offices, allow employees to work from a local office to enable them to travel without using up holiday. They will also benefit from meeting colleagues from around the world and increasing collaboration.

Nourish your employees – body and soul
You probably already have extensive learning and development – but ensure you are shouting about it so all your employees know how to use their benefits. Remember, your package is only as good as your communication. Assign a project to a communications person to run internal campaigns communicating your benefits to help make your schemes really successful.

Encourage your employees to commute in a more active way and make sure they have a balance between life and work which makes it easy to get sufficient exercise. Enabling work based fitness clubs, providing lockers, showers and bike parking facilities are just some of the ways you can encourage this. There’s even optional activities sporty employees can take part in, like the Corporate Games or challenges to raise money for a nominated charity. Employee will be more productive, less stressed and fitter as a result, as well as building a sense of belonging and friendships which will benefit your business too.



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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK