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How to retain employees during an economic downturn

How to retain employees during an economic downturn
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How to retain employees during an economic downturn
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Employee retention has always been an important aspect of business ownership, particularly SMEs who often operate in sectors with small talent pools. In 2022 the challenge to keep employees is greater than ever with 20% more people leaving jobs than before the pandemic.

Why is employee retention important for SMEs?

Employee turnover is an inevitable part of business but minimising it can have a positive impact on employee morale and the level of service you provide. On top of that, onboarding a new employee can actually cost you more than double their salary !

Why are employees leaving their jobs?

The reasons why someone might leave their job is often multi-faceted but there are a few common themes. The Work Institute’s 2022 Retention Report listed the top five reasons for leaving as:

  • Career progression

Searching for better opportunities, promotion or to study.

  • Job

Level of stress in current role, training and development opportunities, flexibility.

  • Health & Family

Childcare and elderly care, work-related and non-work related health problems.

  • Work-Life Balance

Travel time, ability to switch off after work.

  • Job perks

Base pay, benefits and reward schemes or commissions.

How can you retain your staff?

Now we know why employees leave we can use that to create an environment that allows staff to thrive within your business. Here are three key areas to focus on.

Training and development

As discussed earlier, one of the biggest reasons for leaving jobs is for better career development. It therefore stands to reason that businesses with the best training and development will keep employees happier for longer. According to Lorman Education Services , 70% of employees would consider leaving their current employer in favour of a business who invests in development and learning.

Signing up to online training websites for your sector, providing opportunities for staff to attend workshops and seminars and running internal training sessions are great places to start.

Great onboarding process

It is important to understand that retention begins right from the start of employment and not just when an issue arises. The first few weeks are crucial for the employee and the business. Without effective onboarding, employees are likely to lose the early enthusiasm and excitement of starting a new job, increasing the chances of jumping ship. Having a good system in place is even more important for remote and hybrid workers who could easily feel isolated in the early stages.

Flexible working arrangements

With the events of the last few years, the traditional 9-5 office day is almost a thing of the past for most businesses. If your employees can complete their work from home and with flexible hours, then the business should accommodate it. If you are able to incorporate this into the wider culture of your business, not only will your staff be happier, but you are sure to attract more talent into your business.  

Supporting your employees outside of work

Employee well-being is, of course, closely linked to overall job satisfaction and so it is vital to ensure you are offering a workplace which encourages a healthy work/ life balance. By fostering a company culture which is both aware and accommodating of the demands of modern life, you will enjoy increased staff loyalty and often an increase in output.

Employees are looking for more than just a high salary. The businesses that can develop a healthy, social, supportive and ambitious workplace culture will retain more of their staff for longer. Which benefits everyone in the long run!