9 in 10 UK companies fail to retain employee talent — but these workplace changes could help

As research reveals a quarter of employees are actively searching for a new job, employees highlight the key to effective retention.

Job vacancies in the UK rose to a new record high of over 1.2 million this year according to the latest ONS data. Following this surge in employees resigning or considering moving companies — dubbed the Great Resignation — a recent employee survey has revealed that 90% of UK companies are failing to do enough to encourage staff talent retention.

Rather than offering elaborate benefits packages or trendy office spaces, employees identified three simple key ‘wants’ for companies to focus on. When employees were asked what companies could do to improve staff retention, they highlighted:

  • Salary — 60% felt they were paid below industry-standard – meeting this would retain their service

  • Work/life balance — 53% have a subpar work/life balance – addressing this would increase retention

  • Career progression — 49% said there is a lack of career progression in the company – more opportunities are needed

The study reveals that company size also has a bearing on employee retention. The SME employees surveyed were 42% more likely to have started a new job within the last year compared to those working at an enterprise company.

Plus, large companies (100-999 employees) have the longest way to go in improving retention efforts, with just 7% of their employees feeling their company does enough to convince them to stay.

At the enterprise level (1000+ employees), 30% want greater support in combating workplace burnout – the highest figure for the three types of company.

One in three employees think their career has stagnated, and don’t see any opportunities for progression at their current company. Furthermore, over a quarter of employees are currently searching for a new job.

Commenting on the findings, Wildgoose managing director Jonny Edser said:

“Over recent months, it’s become increasingly clear that companies need to start doing more to increase their levels of employee retention. As many of us return to our usual workplaces and in-person onboarding processes can begin once again, there has never been a better time to step up the standards.

“The first few months of an employee’s time at a workplace should be focused on guidance, training, direction and values. Yet it’s not only work-related subjects that new employees should receive support for. Casual catch-ups and wellbeing check-ins can go a long way to help new staff feel welcomed and engaged with their role. At Wildgoose, we continue to offer both in-person and virtual team building experiences, helping companies to encourage colleague friendships and ensure everyone feels happy.”

Tracey Hudson, executive director at HR Dept says:

“To encourage employee retention, line managers should be conducting regular 1:1 meetings — monthly or quarterly is fine. Questions should be asked around what they enjoy to determine which aspects of their employment they value, and what benefits are important to them. Directors should use this feedback to form future benefit strategies and line managers should use this knowledge to help employees get to where they want to be in terms of their career plans. If employees can see there’s a path for them, then they’ll be more committed.”

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