Staff retention levels to improve at Royal Mail as credit crunch bites

Royal Mail’s HR director has predicted that the current economic downturn will be good for the organisation’s retention levels.

Dermot Toberty, director of people and organisational development services at the postal services group, told Personnel Today he expects to see more people joining and staying at the company because they fear other industries might be more susceptible to redundancies.

Currently between 300 and 400 of Royal Mail’s 193,000 workers leave each week, all of who need to be replaced.

But Toberty, who heads up the group’s shared services function, said: “My guess is people will probably not want to leave Royal Mail, but more people will want to come because that’s what you’d expect to find in a recession when redundancies are going on.”

Toberty attributed the high staff turnover to a large number of retirees, and the many people who join Royal Mail and realise the job is not for them.

“It’s easy to think ‘I’ll come and work in Royal Mail and get a uniform and work outdoors’, but the reality is a bit different when you have to get up at 6am to report for duty it’s bit tricky.”

However, during the economic downturn “a job’s a job”, Toberty said, so people were less likely to care about getting up early.

But the economic crisis was having an impact in other areas of the business, he said. These included less marketing spend to advertise Royal Mail services, and having to stick to controlled prices for postage despite increased inflation, something which would impact on the amount of wages the group could offer.

“Downturn in the economy has a huge impact on the business, as we’re operating in a regulated environment with price control – what does that mean for wages and what does that mean in terms of productivity?” he said.

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