Majority of HR professionals claim retaining talent is a significant problem, research reveals

Experts suggest organisations set the right culture from the top to reduce turnover, with people teams, managers and recruiters all having a role to play

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The majority (83 per cent) of chief HR officers say they face a significant talent retention problem, research has found.

The survey, conducted by XpertHR in partnership with Executive Networks, revealed that the main reason for staff turnover was stress and burnout (20 per cent).

The data, collected from interviews with 11 chief human resources officers (CHROs) from Fortune Global 500 companies, also found a lack of career advancement and development (19 per cent) was a significant factor behind the lack of talent retention.

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Other notable reasons for resignations cited by CHROs were staff wanting an increase in wages and struggling to achieve work-life balance (both 18 per cent).

Shazia Ejaz, director of campaigns at REC, highlighted that HR directors have a “lot to contend with” but added that recruiters could help shoulder some of the pressure. 

“Recruiters can help HR colleagues find the best talent from all ages and backgrounds even in this tight labour market. They can also provide advice on how to retain staff,” said Ejaz. 

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“Flexible working arrangements, mentoring programmes and regular pay and benefits reviews, alongside a commitment from the company to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and good environmental social governance at work is increasingly important to attract and retain talent.”  

According to the data, a key feature behind retaining employees is access to learning and development opportunities, with companies that provide this facing a lower average turnover rate (13 per cent) than those that don’t (19 per cent).

Ian Moore, managing director of Lodge Court, said remote working had “taken its toll on company culture and employee relationships”, leading to a lack of job security.

“The crucial onboarding process to welcome new starters and get up to speed quickly will have been limited, if not dropped altogether, during lockdown,” Moore explained, adding that while HR has a role, line managers “need to be giving their teams the attention and support they need to do their best work, and be alert for dips in productivity or interest”.

The findings also revealed that CHROs who predicted an increase in their budget of more than 20 per cent found their average turnover rate over the previous year to be 12 per cent, compared to an average turnover rate of 17 per cent for CHROs who predicted a budget increase between 0 and 9 per cent.

Noelle Murphy, senior HR expert at XpertHR, said tough economic times have only amplified the issue of staff retention. “With many global economies shifting into a recession, pressure is only going to grow for businesses to retain their top talent, who will be vital to navigating the coming years,” she said.  

“HR leaders are under immense pressure to help their organisations rethink what will make employees want to stay. In many cases, it comes down to meeting employee priorities and purpose. Whether it is attracting, hiring, training or retaining talent, HR professionals must make talent their priority.”