Employers seek support to retain staff amid recruitment crisis

Kate Wyatt is a Partner in the Employment team at Scottish legal firm Lindsays

RETENTION has become just as important as recruitment for businesses amid continued damaging staff shortages, employment experts say.

Specialist lawyers at Scottish legal firm Lindsays are working with a range of companies trying to minimise the effects of problems hampering the jobs market.

To tackle that, they are encouraging businesses to take steps including ensuring any toxic cultures or relationships are addressed as a priority and to deal with grievances transparently and effectively.

Kate Wyatt, a Partner in the Employment team at Lindsays, said: “It’s tough to recruit at the moment – and the signs are that it’s not going to get easier any time soon. The ongoing impact of coronavirus, Brexit and the cost of living crisis have created the perfect storm.

“This makes retention as important as recruitment. When employers find good people, it’s become more critical than ever that they do all they can to keep them.”

A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce this summer found that 60% of companies in the UK needed to find new staff, but more than three-quarters were struggling to hire.

While issues are being reported across the board, they are particularly acute in the hospitality, retail and construction sectors.

As businesses brace themselves for recession – and work to be in as strong a position as possible to weather any downturn – many say shortages are already affecting performance.

And while she believes that good staff are always going to be vulnerable to being poached, Ms Wyatt says good employers work to ensure the pull to stay is stronger than the push to go.

She said: “Companies can’t control everything – matching a salary may be beyond their means – but there are things they can do to strengthen their position.

“Look at the support you provide staff. Even if an inflation-busting pay rise isn’t possible, there are other options to make staff feel connected and valued, such as interim pay rises, reminding staff of existing benefits or signposting to sources of support.

“More creative options may be feasible with minimal impact on service provision, such as offering staggered start times to minimise peak travel costs or allowing staff to buy back holiday over the statutory minimum.”

Reducing staff turnover can bring significant savings on recruitment costs.

Not allowing roles which can be performed flexibly, to be worked flexibly puts recruiters in a no-win situation, Lindsays has found through its clients.

Ms Wyatt added: “Events of recent years have seen many people rethink how they want to live their lives – and whether that includes their current employer.

“If employers focus on what can be done to retain good staff and engage with staff creatively to make the working environment as positive as possible, they may not feel so much pressure around recruitment. That’s something they can’t afford to ignore in the current climate.”

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