How managers can attract and retain talent

With the labour market experiencing a shortage of skills, Peter Boolkah explores what employers can be doing to help their staff 

Just under half of the 32 million strong UK workforce will look to change jobs within the next 12 months, according to representational figures from a 2021 Kallidus survey. The reasons were to gain more flexibility, to seek more purpose and to learn and progress their career. These needs were obviously not being met by their current employers. 

The survey also conveyed that 61 per cent of workers are practising self-led learning. Those workers are seeking out additional courses to learn new skills. That figure jumps up to 65 per cent in the 18-35 year old age group. 

As a workforce we feel fulfilled by progressing and developing within our roles. As managers we need to pay attention to this aspect of our packages when attracting and retaining staff. We must also understand that it is currently an employees market with labour shortages across all sectors and wages being pushed up. This is creating large amounts of competition when securing talent. 

There are reports of rewards and signing-on bonuses being offered in some sectors as the fear of running on a reduced team and not being able to compete fully within the market becomes real. To counteract this threat, managers are having to adapt their skills and knowledge in using new resources to find and keep staff. 

We know the work landscape has changed over the past 18 months. Reports that we are spending more than a quarter of our day online since the start of the pandemic means our hiring processes have also had to adapt. Almost half (46 per cent) of people said they are spending more time on social media. 

In addition, some businesses are reporting that traditional job search sites are not always able to filter the best candidates and have turned to social media. It is worth noting that although social media algorithms can be helpful in targeting the best people for the job, there have been reports of discrimination. When hiring staff due diligence should be carried out in whatever medium you use. 

Nevertheless, recruitment is now being seen as more of a marketing exercise in attracting the best staff. Application processes are being simplified. Candidates often report being put off by lengthy outdated screening processes. A short application process which pays attention to qualifying questions and ensuring the applicant has the skills and interest in the role can cut recruiting time. 

With the onboarding process, new hires need to know how the company runs to be able to do their jobs. They need to have access to the correct technology from the start. If close attention isn’t paid to this stage of the process, onboarding can be problematic and contribute to a bleeding of new recruits from a business.

Retaining strong employees is just as key. A high turnover of staff is detrimental to the success of a company. It is inefficient both time wise and financially to keep hiring for the same role. It is also bad PR.

It is not news that incentivising and rewarding staff is how we keep them. But how we do this has changed. Some businesses make the mistake of blanket incentives across the workforce, however, what we actually need to do is be looking at what benefits the individual. Free beers and pizza after work each Friday is not going to be as attractive an incentive to the family man with a two hour commute. For him a more flexible working arrangement would be a greater reward structure. 

Developing your staff also needs to be done on an individual basis. Finding out what an employee's work goals are and what courses can help them achieve that, rather than team goals, will help retain them. It is affirmation that they are worthy and necessary to the running of your business as an individual and that you will invest in them. It breeds a long term relationship of loyalty based on trust. 

Throughout the recruitment process, keeping lines of communication open will help to attract and retain good staff. In times of labour shortages this is important. By giving your teams the right tools to thrive and own their career progression means you will retain good quality staff members and be able to run your business efficiently. 

Peter Boolkah is a business coach, speaker and entrepreneur