The ongoing cost-of-living crisis continues to have a profound effect on the UK economy, despite inflation dropping to 7.9%, the lowest seen since March 2022.Cost of necessities continue to rise, and despite reporting salary increases in our 2023 Census, they are not going as far as they once did.
Often, during economically turbulent periods, workers choose to remain in their current position, valuing job security and consistency of a steady income to weather the financial uncertainty – however, we recently reported an increase of 27% in new applications from Q1 to Q2, suggesting that employees are leaving their jobs, or strongly considering doing so.
A lot of this seems to be driven by the cost-of-living crisis, which is particularly acute in the UK, where 47% of workers said they had little to no savings left at the end of each month, with a further 15% also stating their household is struggling to pay the bills (Source: PWC). Historically, when there is a downturn, there job market would usually contract, however, one of the hangover effects of covid has mean that open roles still outnumber pre-pandemic levels, enabling far greater movement of talent.
HR departments and hiring managers must navigate this new landscape, striving to attract fresh talent for the company’s sustained growth while simultaneously ensuring they retain their current workforce amidst a climate of rising salaries and higher living costs.
In this article, we explore the practical strategies to help you maintain a balance between attracting and retaining staff, ensuring your business remains resilient and adaptable during these turbulent economic changes.
Strategies to Attract & Retain Talent Amid the Crisis
Revising salary bandings and benefit packages: It’s important to know what you’re up against, and so by benchmarking your salary bandings with the latest market data is incredibly important. Our latest 2023 Tech Industries Census enables you to compare your own in-house salaries versus those of the market, thus highlighting areas of concern before they arise. It also enables you to budget for future hiring, ensuring your roles are positioned to attract the best quality candidates you can afford.
While meeting the top end of salary expectations maybe challenging for some businesses right now, you may also want to revisit your benefit packages. Are they adequately meeting your employees’ current needs? These needs have continued to shift over the last few years, and whilst remuneration remains paramount, improvements around benefits and perks can positively impact employee satisfaction, engagement and overall well-being.
Some of the key benefits employees are looking for include far greater holiday allowance, flexible working, pensions and L&D. By tailoring your benefits to your current and prospective employees, will allow you to set yourself aside from your competitors.
Showcasing growth and development opportunities: It’s important to highlight that as an employer, you can create career-paths that offer security, growth and fulfilment. Ambitious individuals seek roles that allow them to evolve personally and professionally, apply their knowledge, and make meaningful impact. In a time of financial stress, the promise of growth and progression becomes more than a perk—it turns into a vital consideration.
Specific ways in which you can showcase growth opportunities including setting clear career pathways with defined milestones and timelines; implementing mentorship and coaching programmes; offering tailored learning and development opportunities; and enabling non-work-related opportunities that align with their interests and company values.
During a downturn, the importance of growth opportunities is magnified. While immediate financial concerns are pressing, the longer-term view of an employee’s career trajectory arguably becomes more vital and can become a beacon of stability in turbulent times.
Emphasising work-life balance: This becomes increasingly important during a financial crisis where stress-levels are high, and employees are juggling multiple pressures both at work and home, and so emphasising your support measures will help take a load off.
This can include things such as:
- Remote work options –communicating the expectations from the company, and allowing employees to balance their personal and professional lives
- Supportive and engaging office environments – juxtaposed against flexibility is the need to support employees in the office; somewhere that facilitateslearning, coaching and highlights the benefit of human connection
- Flexible hours – offering suitable working hours that can accommodate various lifestyle and needs. For example, working parents or someone pursuing further education may need to flex different work hours
- Mental health and wellbeing support – the cost-of-living crisis doesn’t just hit the wallet; it can also take a toll on mental health too, and so supporting employees through it is important. This can take many forms including financial wellbeing workshops, counselling services to mindful programmes or initiatives
- Time off –many of us are suffering from burnout more often and so ensuring employees take regular breaks, or holidays, should be actively encouraged – not only to allow them to reset and recover, but also to garner the best from them
These suggestions may seem simple, and often don’t have to cost a lot – it’s about emphasising and communicating what you have, and how employees can use it.
Cultivating an inclusive and supportive environment: creating an environment that supports employees during tough should not be underplayed as they can help foster a sense of belonging through shared goals, values and understanding. Additionally, a strong community within the workplace can act as a support system, providing reassurance and connection:
- Create open lines of communication – encourage a two-way dialogue between employees and the leadership team, this could be in the form of townhalls, open-door policies, feedback loops. This will enable greater understanding of employee challenges, and will ensure they feel valued and heard
- Establish support groups –setting up support groups or ERG’s (employee resource groups), will help provide support for different demographics within your business, offering a platform for connection, support and advocacy
- Celebrate success and promote recognition –it’s so important to acknowledge individual and team accomplishments, and ensuring that people feel valued and appreciated
- Providing additional support – understand the pain points that your employees are going through and put in place support mechanisms that tackle these. It doesn’t have to just be monetary, although only 28% had put in place cost-of-living provision, you could also look at flexibility and wellness practices.
While this cost-of-living crisis poses challenges, it’s also an opportunity to innovate and strengthen your workforce. By implementing these strategies, you’ll not only navigate the current storm but also build a more resilient, engaged and satisfied team, in addition to supporting your EVP.
As business leaders, those in talent and HR teams and ultimately anyone responsible for other people – we completely appreciate that this can feel like a minefield of information. If you’re interested in discussing how to put this into action, please do contact us or get in touch with your talent partner.