Staff retention ignored despite £4,700 cost of replacing an employee

Employers are failing in their efforts to actively improve staff retention, despite the costs involved in losing valuable employees, according to research by Personnel Today’s sister publication Employment Review.

The survey of 140 employers – with a combined workforce of more than 34,000 staff – showed that 42.1% do not attempt to manage staff retention, even though findings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development put the cost of replacing a worker in 2007 at £4,667, and £10,000 for a senior manager.

And those employers that do make an effort seldom evaluate or monitor the impact of their staff retention practices, leaving lessons unlearned.

Responses to managing labour turnover also tend to be reactive, rather than strategic. And the research shows that employers focus on issues linked to resignations, instead of those that motivate staff to leave, which are often centred on engagement.

Pay in particular was often used as a carrot to encourage workers to stay. However, this had far less influence on employees’ decision-making processes than career opportunities, being consulted and kept informed, and having faith in the business’s leadership.

Staff retention is susceptible to many organisational changes and developments that routinely affect businesses in the UK, with six in 10 respondents encountering such changes.

These factors included the way in which employees were managed (74%), ownership and leadership (69%), pay and benefits (68%), recruitment procedures (65%), and work organisation, careers and training (55%).

However, only 40% of the employers questioned had introduced or improved the availability of flexible working, despite being linked to improved engagement and retention.

The research concluded that such changes could be managed more effectively by employers in a bid to reduce their negative impact on staff turnover.

The case studies also showed that the most successful way to manage staff retention and boost engagement involved a co-ordinated approach, where several initiatives were ‘bundled’ together. However, certain factors were more effective than others as the chart above shows.

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