• Barnett Waddingham
    Barnett Waddingham
  • Five ways to attract and retain the right talent

    As the UK officially left the European Union at 11pm on Friday 31 January 2020, ‘Brexit Day’ signaled the start of the United Kingdom disentangling itself from the EU, establishing its own independence and trade talks with nations around the world. During the transition period, employers should look to hit the ground running in building a business that incentivises staff from overseas to remain beyond 2021.

    The current skills shortage

    During this transition period, the skills shortage needs to be overcome in an ongoing war for talent. Two thirds of respondents to Paydata’s UK Reward Management Survey autumn 2019 reported difficulties in recruiting talent and 55 per cent experienced issues in retaining people. In particular, manufacturing, residential care and construction sectors are reporting difficulties in recruitment, posing a major threat to businesses. Furthermore, only half of employers had a plan in place for Brexit. Research by CV-writing firm TopCV found that 15 per cent of the workers it surveyed were planning to leave the UK after Brexit. Plans need to be introduced to support employees in handling the new immigration rules that may affect them.

    Bolster recruitment and retention practices using your reward strategy

    Other steps that businesses can take to strengthen their ability to recruit and retain following the transition period include assessments.

    • Evaluating your Employee Value Proposition

    Promotion of your employee value proposition (EVP) is one of the best tools available to recruit and engage employees. A central element of the EVP is compensation and benefits – the importance of competitive pay and bonus packages and the increasing importance of non-financial benefits. Employers should ensure that they are paying competitively with the wider market, benchmarking roles with immediate competitors and wider data for more generalist roles such as marketing, HR and IT where there may be sector differentiation. 82 per cent expect to review their benefits offering in 2020, showing the prominent role benefits have in attracting and retaining the right talent. By offering choice, employees can tailor their packages, meeting the needs of multi-generational workforces.

    • Laying the foundations of a fair culture

    The expectation of businesses to behave responsibly and fairly is on the rise, from both candidates and the general public. It is vital to adopt practices that ensure parity of pay can be achieved through a robust pay framework, which guides each decision around pay throughout an organisation. By ensuring transparent pay structures are in place, organisations can make consistent reward decisions. Parity of pay, where jobs are paid equivalently when they involve the same skills, ensures that every individual knows that they are being appropriately rewarded for their work. Objective frameworks can bolster the quality of line managers’ decisions, avoiding discretionary increases where some managers are more generous, better equipping them to have meaningful performance management conversations.

    • Nurturing a more inclusive culture

    Inclusion promotes diversity – a key performance indicator of businesses to show their willingness to innovate, offering a range of knowledge and perspectives to drive the customer experience. Related to the steps companies are taking to act fairly and responsibly, companies should also assess the practices they follow that promote inclusivity and diversity. Diversity and inclusion is increasingly becoming an area of innovation for employers who see this as an opportunity to differentiate their approach. 86 per cent of employers already offer broader equality and diversity initiatives, including networking groups (bringing together under-represented groups to mutually support their progression and share experiences); dedicated working groups (open to all employees to champion workplace diversity); and coaching programmes (designed to focus on individual training and support).

    • Designing an effective reward strategy

    Actively listening to employees is critical. A reward strategy should be built on employee research, fostering an effective and open culture. Gathering feedback directly from your people through focus groups and surveys can in itself be a valuable exercise in making their contribution feel valued. Co-creating an effective rewards package can ensure that the employer side of the EVP remains competitive whilst employees feel invested in the company, having their views and opinions sought and acknowledged, even if not all of their suggestions are eventually incorporated; they have had a hand in shaping the strategy. Entry and exit interviews are also increasingly popular, with employers proactively identifying how to improve the employee experience and benefits offered.

    • Executing an impactful communication plan

    Both external and internal communications must be assessed to ensure that current employees feel engaged, driving down employee turnover levels. Total Reward Statements are an important internal communications tool for employers to set out the value provided to their existing employees, demonstrating the investment made in each employee both in tangible (financial) and intangible (work environment, culture) terms. Benefits roadshows and drop-in sessions can raise awareness of the rewards on offer and increase opt-ins. Close collaboration with marketing can also maximise engagement externally. Advertising the reward package as part of your organisation’s unique selling point is a key recruitment driver.

    With workers seeking to establish their settled status within the next 12 months, organisations offering their employees support throughout this process and taking the above steps will ensure that they are in the best position possible in 2021 to continue to attract and retain the right talent. Organisations that innovate and ensure they remain responsive to the value employees derive from their work will promote longevity in key roles. This approach can help them to achieve their long-term objectives and vision, which is ultimately shaped and delivered through their people.


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