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​Hiring and retaining top talent

James Reed, chairman of REED Recruitment


In a candidate-driven market, it’s vital that businesses know how to attract - and more importantly - how to retain talent.


When I speak to our clients at about their recruitment concerns, one of their biggest challenges is staff retention. High staff turnover is a huge cost to employers and can be potentially fatal to smaller organisations - not to mention the detrimental effects on morale in the aftermath of a mass exodus. But there are some general guiding principles to ensure you hire and retain the best talent to progress your business and build a sustainable future.


Highlight benefits


When I speak to consultants, I hear time and time again that prospective candidates are not only looking for challenging roles, but stability and opportunity to grow in a company, so demonstrating these attributes is essential.


Work/life integration is also a huge pull factor for people, as more people come to expect flexible working options from an employer. This doesn’t necessarily mean working less hours; many are simply seeking a less rigid way of working. For instance, offering the ability to work from home occasionally. Employers willing to offer a more flexible schedule will inevitably attract and retain top talent.


Go beyond salary


Yes, offering a competitive salary to prospective candidates is important - and for some - it can be the deciding factor between two job offers, but it isn’t the only considerable factor. Candidates are increasingly seeking more than just the right salary package; business purpose, job security, desirable benefits, and having a renowned Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy are all hugely beneficial factors. 


Provide opportunities to progress


Other things that a company can easily do to elevate its desirability is support staff progression. Those who are talented will ultimately be ambitious and it is important to recognise this and make sure you don’t underestimate people’s potential. A mentorship scheme is a good way to do this.


Matching ambitious individuals to others in the company will help them to work towards their career goals and learn from the experiences of those who have already achieved. I have had mentors during my career and I’ve also been a mentor to others – success is never a one-person show. In fact, many of the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs credit large parts of their accomplishments to the guidance of a mentor including, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet. Allowing staff to receive feedback and to have open and frank conversations will also help those who are goal-driven stay on the right track.


Reward loyalty


Around twenty years ago, I introduced long service sabbaticals across REED for members of the team who have completed ten, twenty or thirty years of service. This allows them to take a paid sabbatical of six weeks, which can be added to two weeks’ annual leave, giving a paid break of up to eight weeks. My reason for introducing these paid sabbaticals was to reward their loyalty and to say thank you to these valuable people who have worked at REED long term.


Ultimately, good retention rates stem from providing opportunity; by ensuring talent is nurtured and recognised in your organisation. Happy workers are the ones who will remain loyal and stay with the organisation and their happiness in turn, will help to attract more top talent to your business.



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