So why is it so important to get the balance right between recruitment and retention? Cost is clearly a driver – recruiting staff is an expensive business, and putting effort into keeping them is time intensive for managers.
Staff should be seen as an organisation’s greatest asset. Individuals respond positively if they believe they have realistic and attainable ways to strengthen their future work prospects. They want to believe that they can, from the beginning to the end of their working life, record and enhance the capabilities developed in formal and informal learning.
For this to happen, they need to be supported, developed and enriched throughout their career. The challenge for employers is to accept that many of our working population will change roles and careers more frequently than past generations and will not necessarily stay with the employer who invested in them – they are being equipped for the changing world of work not one particular job.
However, continued fiscal austerity, years of pay restraint, redundancies, restructures, increased workloads, reduced pension entitlements and money to invest in training have all impacted on staff morale and retention rates in local government. So what needs to be done?
As an employee it is important to establish what you are being offered beyond the salary envelope–for example a culture of trust, empowerment, recognition, healthy working environment and good work practices together with clear career development opportunities. Staff need to have the time and encouragement to enrich their skill base, build loyalty and see how they are contributing to their organisation’s success.
Recognising employees for their good work makes people feel valued. If employers want to attract the best people and get the best from them, they need to offer something of value to that individual. The best employers are listening to their employees and constantly evolving their approach in light of what they hear. So, providing opportunities for staff to develop within their existing grade or through shadowing or secondments may yield positive outcomes. In a sector not known for high salaries and wide ranging incentives, job satisfaction is an important motivator and opportunities around flexible working, career progression and other benefits can embed loyalty into the workforce.
However, not all staff are prepared to stay and look for opportunities to enhance their career. Employers need to identify why employees are leaving, as well as why employees are staying, then leverage the positive and countermeasure the negative.
Whether that’s implementing training to help line managers to spot and support stressed employees, the introduction of flexible working to accommodate staff with child or elder care commitments, or broadening benefits offered to reflect the life cycle and interests of your staff group. Accept that some level of attrition is healthy and, when people leave, it can allow others to shine as well as bringing in new thinking and approaches.
External recruitment may be required where the skills and experience are not apparent in-house. An effective executive recruitment partner can guide you through the process. In my own experience, a long drawn out affair may have a negative impact on candidates, especially if they do not believe the assessment to be relevant to the role. All candidates need to have a positive learning experience from the selection process. Good recruitment is a way of protecting the reputation of your organisation. Additionally, those involved in the selection process need to have a unified understanding of the role and person requirements through clear and honest discussions in order to ensure, as far as possible, the right appointment is made.
External recruitment needs an equally effective employer value proposition (EVP) and internal branding and communications, a Penna speciality. Has enough been done to assess and develop the existing workforce? We’re finding through our diagnostic development centres that if values and behaviours are inline then talent can be developed and fast tracked. If this has not been possible then consider the route of external recruitment. When using an external consultancy be clear about the expectations and services required and whether there are any elements of the selection process that can be undertaken internally.
Recruitment and retention issues go to the heart of the way organisations are managed and led. Get it right and staff will feel their expectations have been met, they have the right tools for the job and know where their career may take them.
Engaging experienced external partners, like Penna, to collaborate on recruitment and retention strategies will improve your internal efforts. In return the employer will reap the benefit for of a happy and effective individual - however long that person decides to remain with them.
Anthony Hopkin is Associate Director at Penna