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Talented solution

How to boost talent retention during an era of employee discontent. By Charles Butterworth, Managing Director, Access People

Retaining talent has always been a long-running critical issue for businesses, but in the current climate, it could become even more of a challenge. Since early 2021, the cost of living has been steadily rising across the UK, with inflation reaching a 41-year high of 11.1 per cent in October 2022. In response, many employees are increasing the pressure on their employers to offer competitive support packages, with some even taking strike action or leaving their roles entirely.

Employees are also looking beyond salary to other incentives that could motivate them to stay with a company. The question is: what is driving employees to leave their roles and, correspondingly, how can employers stop this trend and boost retention instead?

CIPD research finds that better pay and benefits are often the main motivator for people to leave their roles, but that they are also seeking increased job satisfaction and better work-life balance. These factors pushing individuals to leave their roles could occur as a result of a whole host of demotivators, such as a lack of recognition, a lack of support for reskilling and upskilling, or a lack of career progression opportunities. Organisations should therefore look beyond concerns around salaries and ensure that any employee re-engagement strategy includes a range of support mechanisms tailored to their workforce.


Of those who intend to leave their current position within the next 12 months, career progression is the third most important reason to move (after finding a better salary and a better work/life balance). Even if employers cannot offer significant salary increases within the current economic environment, alternative options remain that could have a positive impact on employee retention.

Employers can prioritise their employees’ career progression by offering personalised upskilling and reskilling opportunities. A tailored approach does not always require significant resource investment, but rather simply leveraging the personnel insights that a business is likely to already have access to. Managers can consider tapping into their employee data, evaluating which skills employees have already developed and thus identifying any skills gaps that may be hindering the business’ growth. Equally, line managers can have open conversations with their direct reports during performance reviews, asking employees about their career progression goals. When equipped with these insights, businesses are better able to ensure that the right people receive the career progression opportunities that they need to remain with the organisation.


Ensuring that open lines of communication are established between employer and employee is vital. For instance, businesses may have implemented a new career progression strategy that leaders expect to increase employee retention, but if employees do not like the new strategy, it is unlikely to have the desired results. Communication channels allow employees to feel like they have a voice and provide them with opportunities to give feedback on their experience at work. This feedback can then be addressed by leaders to ensure that every employee is thriving in the workplace and avoid any premature resignations.

Feedback is a two-way street, so managers should be showing regular recognition to employees in tandem to receiving feedback. Feeling appreciated is a fundamental human need, especially in times when wellbeing may be low due to external financial concerns. Indeed, higher workplace recognition often results in higher workplace satisfaction, with many workplace surveys finding employee recognition consistently ranked as one of the most important factors for employee retention.

Whether from employee to manager or manager to employee, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to workplace communication. Some individuals may prefer private channels, whereas others could prefer public forums. Organisations should consult employees on their preferred communication approaches, ensuring that the chosen strategy is accessible to all to foster employee engagement and improve retention.


Ultimately, delivering a competitive employee experience is all about tailoring the organisation’s approach to its workforce. Far too often, workplace engagement strategies are designed for an ideal situation, rather than being adapted to the workforce’s real experiences.

Organisations can consider leveraging HR software, such as an HR management system, to deploy regular surveys and receive employee feedback on the overall workplace environment. Relevant actions can be taken promptly while employees are given the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns anonymously. This will help make them feel heard and valued. Businesses that use these HR solutions will reduce turnover among personnel, by boosting employee retention and addressing employees’ primary concerns.

About Sarah OBeirne

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