With the challenges faced by the UK job market at the moment and increased competition for the best skills, it’s essential to have a talent retention strategy in place alongside any hiring plans. When it comes to retaining your best talent there are a range of initiatives businesses can put in place from increasing salaries to flexible working to wellbeing programmes. But the one that packs a punch not only by benefitting your top performers, but also adding more value to the business, is learning and development.  


Is retention an issue? 

The working world is in a moment of flux. Recruiting new talent is harder, employee expectations are shifting and wider circumstances will continue to change. For employers, that makes it more important than ever to keep hold of their top performers.  

In fact, according to the latest business insights and impact survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 32% of private sector organisations in the UK struggled with worker shortages at the end of 2022.  

With the cost of replacing a departed employee standing around £11,000 per person according to Croner, there’s a big impact on the bottom line that business leaders can’t afford to risk, before thinking about the gap they leave in terms of knowledge and expertise. 

But with 47% of the UK workforce looking for a new job at the beginning of 2023 – despite the economic uncertainty across many international markets – it’s an issue that’s not going to go away. This means that business leaders need to take steps now to retain their top talent and increase their employee retention rates. 


What do employees want from their employer? 

Addressing employee attrition rates relies on business leaders taking time to understand what their employees want from them, what drives satisfaction and what will make them stay. This has shifted over recent years and employers need to keep up with not only what employees want now, but also adapt to their evolving requirements in the future. There’s a rise in the popularity of flexible and remote working at the moment, alongside a general desire to be engaged and fulfilled with a job, driven in part by the pandemic. 

Traditionally salary was the main driving force, but the sector in which someone works has an impact on how important this is now. In the annual CIPD and Omni Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey, pay and benefits has risen from second to first place in respondents’ overall rankings of which elements of employer brand, replacing organisational values, which has fallen from first to fourth place. Overall, however, just 42% include pay and benefits among their top three attractors and there is considerable variation between organisations and sectors. 

Understanding your candidates and employees’ motivators is essential in this ever-changing landscape. And understanding that sector and regional differences will also apply.  

Pay and benefits stands out as a key attractor in the private sector, but in the public sector slightly more respondents believe the perception of the organisation as an employer is important, and nearly as many include job security among the most important elements of their employee brand. Non-profit organisations are more likely to rank their goals, strategy and values as most important in attracting candidates. Less able to compete on pay, organisations in this sector are more likely to appeal to candidates through flexible working and working from home/hybrid options.   

All of these elements are important when trying to attract candidates especially in this passive market, you have to be upfront and honest and salary and benefits.  

Talent retention – career matters


The value of a defined career path 

Whether it’s helping your employees create a personalised career development plan, offering mentoring or providing access to learning opportunities, a defined career path is something employees place value on.   

It can feel like supporting an employee on their future career path is setting them up to leave, but IBM found that employees who don’t feel they can achieve their career goals at their current employer are 12 times more likely to leave. Showing an employee, particularly for those at the start of their career, that the business is willing to invest in them and their future is rewarded not only by them staying longer, but also by being more engaged in their role.  

People want to learn, to grow and to progress and they want their employers to care about their development too. Creating a culture that supports, or even better encourages personal and professional development is a sure-fire way to retain top talent. This spans across age groups, with a Gallup study revealing that 59% of millennials felt that learning and development opportunities were extremely important when applying for a job, while 76% of Gen Z polled by LinkedIn believe learning is the key to a successful career. 

Development opportunities aren’t limited to courses and qualifications. Mentoring can play a part, developing skills and providing an experienced voice to offer counsel and support. Similarly, career development planning encourages a longer-term view and self-reflection can be an important tool for those early in their careers. Being able to tweak the support to the person, where they are in their career and their aspirations is fundamental to give employees ownership of the process. 


Retain top talent through development opportunities 

It’s clear that professional development and access to training should be firmly embedded within every organisation’s retention strategies. Development opportunities create employees that are more confident and competent at their job, they perform at a higher level and are more engaged in their work. In return businesses create loyal employees who are motivated to succeed. Alleviating the risk that top talent will jump ship to an employer who does offer that benefit.  

The talent market in the UK is highly competitive and this is impacting the available skills within the UK, employers need to ensure they’re retaining their best people and an easy way to do that is through taking time to invest in and develop their employees’ skills and careers. A starting point to do just that is through services such as our Employability and Career service which allows employees to realise their potential and develop their career.  

Find out more about our talent solutions by contacting the team today.