During the Covid-19 pandemic, we witnessed ‘the Great Resignation’ in which many workers used the lockdowns to re-evaluate what was important to them in respect of achieving a work-life balance and redundancies following the UK’s Furlough Scheme. More recently, with the rising cost of living, the lasting mental and physical effects of the pandemic, industrial action, and extreme weather conditions, it is anticipated more than ever that individuals are seeking more support and flexibility for their employers. This raises the question of how employers can attract, hire and retain talent and ensure a happy and motivated workforce whilst maintaining strong employee engagement.
What is ‘employee relations’?
‘Employee relations’ describes the relationship between employers and employees. In current times, this has considered employees’ on an individual basis as well as collective workplace relationships. It has been found that high levels of employee engagement can lead to positive outcomes for businesses as well as healthier and motivated employees. In respect of individuals, contract law, employment law, contracts of employment and employee handbooks, alongside procedures as outlined in the ACAS Code of Practice can influence employee relations. In terms of collective relationships, this can include collective bargaining, information and consultation, arbitration, and industrial action with consideration to the Trade Union Acts.
How can employers attract and hire talent?
It can be difficult when experienced, long-serving employees leave a business taking such business-specific knowledge and skills with them. When seeking to attract and hire talent, employers should take the following into account:
- Creating an attractive role – At this stage, the employer should place themselves in the ‘applicant’s shoes’ to carefully consider the responsibilities of the role and how an individual can progress and be challenged in the role over various stages to achieve long-term career development. In addition, reviewing feedback provided from employee’s exit interviews should prove invaluable to determine what the business can change for the future.
- Marketing roles – Individuals want to be reassured that employers can provide stability and growth. Employers, should inform individuals at the recruitment stages that hard work can generate rewards and provide long-term career development.
- Working arrangements – The pandemic has demonstrated that in many industries, individuals can work flexibly and flexible working arrangements have been rated highly as a factor that individuals consider when searching for new roles. It is important to be open from the outset as to what the expectations are and/or be open to trialling different working arrangements to build upon trust and generate loyalty.
How can employers retain talent?
Once employers have hired individuals, it is important to ensure that such individuals remain engaged and motivated to work for the business in the long-term. The following considerations can prove helpful in seeking to retain talent:
- Encouraging open communication – particularly between employees and their managers. This has become increasingly important where teams are working remotely and scheduling regular catch up or review meetings from the start and team meetings or ‘team days’ in person can boost productivity.
- Training and supporting managers – to ensure that they understand the business’ procedures for information and consulting, and enabling and promoting employees to communicate with them.
- Setting short-term and long-terms goals – this encourages employees to meet their full potential, allows employers to assess employees’ value to the business and then reward employees for their strong commitment and hard work. It also sends a strong message to employees as to what their longer-term aspirations can be and how they can feel valued by the business.
- Employee-focused initiatives – The recent events may have affected individuals’ mental and physical health and by employers encouraging health-related, social and charitable gatherings and events, this is likely to encourage an open forum outside of day-to-day work and boost employee morale. It is also more likely to have lasting effects, such as fostering a positive work culture and long-term development.
- Encouraging employees to take their annual leave – Annual leave is essential for employees to maintain their health and wellbeing and to ensure that they can maintain their performance at work. By sending regular reminders to employees to plan ahead and to take holiday prior to the end of the holiday year, this highlights employees’ right to ‘switch off’ and disconnect from work.
Overall, seeking to retain talent in the long-term is likely to result in increased morale and a cohesive and efficient workforce. Communication and fostering strong employee relations is key. With consideration to the points as outlined above, ensuring a happy, healthy and motivated workforce, employers are more likely to reduce staff turnover and attract and retain talent in the long-term.