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How to Attract and Retain Talent in 2021


Attracting and retaining the right talent for your business will play a vital role in ensuring a strong post-pandemic recovery. As organisations look towards their future business planning, it will be crucial that they are getting the right people in place to drive success. As well as this, organisations need to make sure that they are aware of how employee priorities may have shifted over the past year and what steps they can take in order to make sure they retain their most skilled people. Many employees across all sectors have indicated that they would choose to leave companies if flexible working was not offered. This is an understandable concern for business owners who face a potential talent drain at a critical time as organisations look to move back to a sense of normality.

In 2020/21 there was a surge in people searching for “retrain as” and “career change at [age]” so if you find yourself fretting over talent flight risk, you’re not alone! Now might just be time to reassess what you are doing to attract and retain the talent required for your businesses continued success.

In this guide, we explore the challenge of talent acquisition and some of the key factors you should be aware of such as:

  • How do you attract top talent?
  • How do you make sure your benefits really are benefits for your staff, and not just for you?
  • How can you use management principles to ensure employee engagement and retainment of your A-team?

Retraining for a new career during the pandemic

The past year has seen a huge upswing of people switching careers. Recent research suggests there has been as much as a 70% increase of career switch searches over the last 12 months.

The reasons for these mass switches? Firstly, at the height of the pandemic, many businesses found themselves faced with the difficult decision to either furlough or make cuts to their workforce.

The volatile nature of the job market at this time meant that in many instances, a short-term career switch was necessary in order to safeguard income. Immediately following the introduction of the first national lockdown there was a huge upswing in demand for roles in supermarkets as well as warehouses and the distribution change.

Many professionals found themselves pivoting to these roles, in order to ensure an income during volatile times.

Secondly, the switch to remote working has opened many people’s eyes to the potential of reshaping their working structure. Job positions which may have been previously closed off due to location have found themselves suddenly broader in scope, with more and more companies casting their recruitment net wider and taking into account the demand for remote positions.

Data gathered by the ONS suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on occupational switching. Of those employed in quarter 1 and quarter 2 of 2020, 6.1% changed jobs, compared to 5.7% in the same period the year prior. More than half of those (53%) took their career in a new direction and changed the industry they worked in.

The data suggests that the fields experiencing the greatest influx of reskilling searches over the past year fall in line with that of the past 5 years, with teaching, nursing and accountancy ranking highly for people looking to make career shifts. The widespread awareness and appreciation of the efforts of frontline healthcare workers over the past year has seen an increase of 60% in people looking to switch to these roles.

This presents an interesting view of the workforce and their movements throughout the pandemic. While there have unfortunately been many instances of people retraining as a result of job losses, the data suggests greater incidences of people taking the upheaval and changes of the past year as an impetus and inspiration to look at reskilling and taking that next step. This also suggests that businesses who take a proactive approach in retraining existing employees can help meet this need for personal development, as well as help drive business recovery.


Talent acquisition strategy

At its heart, talent acquisition is the process by which organisations identify and acquire people with skill sets which meet their organisational needs.

Your talent acquisition strategy is a vital one in ensuring that your business is hiring people who are sympathetic to not only your business goals but also your company culture.

Unlike your standard recruitment process, talent acquisition places a focus on long-term human resource planning. It is an attractive prospect for many organisations as it introduces a proactive element to the recruitment process, encouraging organisations to cultivate talent pipelines to have a continuous source of prospective people to draw from to fill positions.

In order to be able to fully realise their business strategies moving forward, organisations will be looking for workers that are the right cultural fit and will ultimately add value to the business over a span of time. The process of talent acquisition allows businesses to have the focus needed to hone their talent search.

By honing the process of searching for talent and understanding the gaps in talent or skillsets which exist within their organisation,allows businesses a greater degree of freedom in being upfront about their requirements. Retaining new talent can hinge on the recruitment stage with research suggesting that nearly 40% of new hires leave their jobs within the first six months and 20% of new hire turnover occurs within the first 45 days.

This is because of poor onboarding and a lack of transparency about the culture they were entering into. As a result, new hires begin to regret accepting the offer over another and their energy is put into looking for a new job rather than excelling at the current one.

Honing and refining the interview stage can play a crucial part of the talent acquisition process as well as helping businesses find people who are more likely to stay the course.

Research shows that technology is set to play a huge role in enhancing the recruitment process, with more and more organisations looking into sophisticated applicant tracking platforms.

The benefits of these systems are twofold- allowing businesses to refine talent pools around clearly defined skill sets and requirements, as well as having clear visibility of the recruitment process, ensuring that all candidates are being communicated with effectively regarding the role and company culture.

The emergence of remote working has also greatly widened the scope of talent pools for organisations. With roles becoming less intrinsically linked to an office location, why restrict your talent search to a narrow geographic location?

We understand the importance of taking a proactive approach with the recruitment process. Our employee induction checklist runs through some of the major elements you should be aware of when looking at bringing on board talent.

The adoption of new systems will also be an asset for businesses looking to cultivate comprehensive pipelines and ensure that they have visibility of required skill sets and prospective talent whenever they need.

Why employee retention is important

Employee retention is vital for organisations who are looking to cultivate motivated, happy and long serving people. The consequences of low retention rates can be far reaching for organisations as constant levels of employee attrition can negatively impact workplace culture and workplace morale.

From a logistical standpoint, the time and resources that have to be allocated towards the hiring and training of new staff is significant – not to mention the inevitable loss of experience and talent from older, more experienced employees leaving the business.

Organisations looking to make a strong post-pandemic recovery can not afford to have a mass exodus of their employees and ensuring that you retain the people who ultimately make your business work, will be of the utmost importance. Retaining your people and ensuring that they remain engaged and fulfilled within their roles will be vital in driving success.

CIO highlights why employee retention is important in the overall business strategies of organisations: “Employee retention is a critical issue as companies compete for talent in a tight economy. The costs of employee turnover are increasingly high — as much as 2.5 times an employee’s salary depending on the role. There are also other soft costs such as lowered productivity, decreased engagement, training costs and cultural impact.”

After a year of turmoil, it is understandable that organisations will be looking at tightening their belts in many areas and with this in mind, businesses can ill afford to incur costs accrued from constant recruitment and retraining of staff.

Employee retention techniques

With the importance of employee retention very much at the forefront for organisations, we need to have a look at some of the steps businesses can take in order to ensure the long term happiness of their people.

CIO have outlined some of the best practices for organisations looking to ensure high levels of employee retention.

Some of the suggestions include:

  • Retention begins with the recruitment process

It is important that organisations are cultivating potential candidates who align with not only their

business goals but who are also likely to be a good fit with company culture.

  • Be open about advancement and education opportunities

One of the most common reasons for people leaving an organisation is a perceived lack of mobility within the business.

Organisations should make sure that they are communicating clearly and effectively any opportunities for employee development and enhancement. Research by CTA tech found that professional development programmes are perceived as among the top benefits for retaining employee’s services.

  • Remain open and communicative

Fostering an open and collaborative relationship with your people can be vital in making employees feel valued.

Encourage round table meetings where employees can offer suggestions and feedback. An open door policy where employees are encouraged to approach management frankly can go a long way towards making people feel like a valued part of the workforce.

  • Leverage technology

Virtual HR platforms form a natural part of the employee retention. By offering a central platform for employee assessment and feedback, organisations can ensure that any employee grievances or misgivings shouldn’t take them by surprise.

By having visibility of your people and their needs, it frees your HR teams to take a proactive approach in managing employee wellbeing.

Review your employee perks

You may be wondering how to keep employees happy – and with good reason, employee perks play a vital role in not only making your organisation an attractive prospect for potential new employees but also serve as a way for companies to communicate their culture and ethos. Take the opportunity to send out a pulse survey to your people, asking them which perks they would prefer. By taking a measure of the mood of your people, you can inform any decisions you make regarding benefits
Employee benefits are any form of non-wage based compensation. These benefits are designed as a supplement to an employee’s salary and can range from Dental cover and health care insurance to perks on travel such as company cars.

Research by Towers Willis Watson found that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer due to the benefits package, with another study finding that 69% of those surveyed would choose one job over another on the basis of benefits offered.

Expanding upon this, TBOS found that 79% of employees would rather have new and additional benefits available instead of a pay increase. Although a good wage is important, so are benefits. Flexipay by Mitrefinch offers the flexibility for employers to offer draw down pay. This is particularly useful in that employers can more easily incentivise cover work or overtime by ensuring that any employees who take up extra hours, can be instantly financially rewarded. This flexibility also gives employees the peace of mind to know that any financial emergencies can be covered without knock on impacts.
By adding employee benefits to an organisation, it can increase loyalty, focus and productivity, attendance and optimise recruiting efforts.

The prevailing trend for many appears to be seeking out benefits that focus around health and wellbeing (such as increased leave allowances) rather than financial incentives. A recent Glasshouse survey found that 80% of employees would choose additional benefits and perks over a pay rise.

The effective communication of perks and benefits available to employees will play a vital role not only in the ongoing happiness of existing employees but will also serve as an attractive plus point to prospective new hires.

Companies should make sure their benefits packages are well defined and they should also make sure they are being communicated at the recruitment stage. As employee priorities and needs change, comprehensive reward schemes could be the edge organisations need to remain competitive within the hiring market.

Provide ongoing training and opportunities to grow

Employees who feel undervalued and underdeveloped will inevitably begin to look at other organisations. This dissatisfaction is one of the key contributors to low retention rates and isn’t easily managed without proactive course correction from business leaders.

With many organisations still feeling the impact of the past year and with the talent market even tighter and more competitive than before, organisations can ill afford to allow their most talented people to walk out of the door as a result of feeling undervalued. Organisations don’t have to lean on expensive, outsourced courses to upskill their people. The internet contains a vast range of free platforms such as Google Digital Garage which are easily accessible.

In this piece, CIO succinctly summarises the importance of employee development: “Promoting from within not only provides a clear path to greater compensation and responsibility, it also helps employees feel that they’re valued and a crucial part of the company’s success.”
It’s clear that professional development and growth is a priority for many: A Linkedin workplace survey found that an astonishing 93% of respondents felt that they would be more likely to remain with their current employers if they offered opportunities for advancement and development.

It’s clear that employee development is no longer something which organisations can consider as optional. The demand for growth from employees is clear and it is vital that businesses are leading out with this in the recruitment stage, clearly setting out how they expect to foster the ongoing growth and training of employees. In a tight talent market, an ill defined structure around employee training and skill development can easily mean you lose out on bringing those most vital people into your organisation.

Leverage Technology

When looking at employee retention, it is clear that technology has a huge part to play in helping businesses create a culture which is open, friendly and ultimately supportive of their people’s needs and goals.

A sticking point for some organisations is that workforce management technology has traditionally been seen in a negative light, viewed as something draconian and designed only to help businesses punish underperforming employees.

As the wider working world continues to leverage technology which helped them succeed over the past year, what is clear is that these platforms have a hugely positive role to play for organisations who want to play a proactive role in safeguarding the wellbeing and happiness of their employees.

This report by HR Daily Advisor finds that the continued adoption of technology can help bridge the gap between older, exec level employees and the younger generation of employees:

“32% of the respondents said Millennials were the hardest group of employees to engage—considerably more difficult than Gen Z, Gen X, or Baby Boomers.
Given these findings, it’s clear that businesses, especially those in the retail, hospitality, and entertainment sectors, cannot afford to be complacent or offer subpar experiences to their Millennial employees.

“Therefore, companies should tap into Millennials’ intrinsic desire for personal fulfillment and sense of purpose. “

The report continues: “One way to do this is for HR professionals to leverage socially intuitive experiences provided by enterprise social networks and use these platforms to provide ongoing learning and development.

This will help the Millennial workforce not only by improving their job-related skills, productivity, and performance but also by making them feel personally fulfilled in their roles and more satisfied with their company.”

Technology should not be seen as a measure to enact curbs to employees but should instead be considered by organisations as a way to supplement and enhance their processes. Offering a seamless, intuitive experience for new and ongoing employees alike will help frame your organisation in their eyes as progressive and supportive of their requirements.

Benefits of employee retention

Strong employee retention levels have a fundamentally positive impact on businesses. Organisations who are able to foster a happy and positive working environment populated by satisfied, long time employees, will find they have an easier time communicating the ethos and culture of their company to new hires.
Some of the main benefits of strong employee retention include:

  • Reduced Turnover Hassle – Less time spent investing time and resource into the recruitment process
  • Improved Morale – High turnover naturally leads to employees feeling unsettled.
  • Reduced Acquisition and Training Time – By focusing and honing the recruitment process, you can ensure you are bringing people who are the right fit for your business, with the skill sets to meet challenges.
  • Dedicated Company Experts – High levels of retention mean you keep hold of the people in your business with the specific knowledge of your processes. That means the important, teachable knowledge can then be imparted to new hires.
  • Increased Overall Productivity – A happy and secure workforce will find themselves more focused and motivated
  • Better Customer Experience – A positive workforce always filters through to how they are perceived by customers.

Industry specific retention strategies

Talent retention strategies for hospitality

The past year has been a particularly trying time for businesses within the hospitality sector. Extended periods of social restrictions have hit the sector particularly hard – with bars, pubs and clubs having experienced some of the most pronounced periods of closure.
As businesses in the industry look to make a strong post-pandemic recovery, ensuring they can retain their people will be vital.

The hospitality industry is one of the largest employers in the world, covering many different segments and employment sectors. From food and beverage establishments such as quick service restaurants, fine dining, cafes, bars and more to travel and tourism, the hospitality industry is booming. But even though it is an ever-growing sector, the hospitality industry faces its own unique workforce challenges.

Employee turnover in the hospitality industry is extremely high. Research by Harver found that the hotel and motel industry alone experiences an employee turnover rate of 73.8%––exponentially higher than the annual average of 10-15%.

Even more concerning for hospitality businesses are the reports which suggest extended furlough periods have motivated many employees in the sector to seek out new career paths. The customer facing nature of the role and the sudden move back into long shifts has also been jarring for many who may find returning to their old hospitality roles a chore.

It will be vital that businesses within the sector are looking at ways in which they can reduce these high levels of turnover. As ever, fostering an open environment will be critical, with managers encouraged to pass on praise and feedback to their people in order to ensure that all employees feel equally engaged.
The wider workforce awareness of remote working is unfortunately not applicable to the hospitality industry as a whole, due to the largely customer facing nature of the sector. Business leaders can however still look to help out their people by encouraging flexible working schedules to ensure that their people can remain agile and able to work around domestic disruptions.

Given the volatile nature of jobs in the sector over the past year, the onerous will be on employees to demonstrate their commitment towards safeguarding jobs and the wellbeing of their people in order to instil a sense of confidence back into the industry.

Talent retention strategies for retail

As with hospitality, the retail sector is a heavily customer facing industry which will have felt the impact of prolonged lockdown restrictions. Whilst the sector is facing less of a retention crisis than hospitality, the customer facing nature of the industry still means that businesses will have to be proactive in safeguarding employee wellbeing and instilling confidence.

Telermate have identified some areas in which businesses can make change:

“Reduce staff stress and retain talent through the use of technology which protects employers and employees alike. Clever retail technology can prevent staff stress at cashing up time, during spot checks, and even if and when a customer claims a cashier has given the incorrect change.

An intelligent cash drawer track reconciles transactions in real-time, so both the employer and employee alike are protected.”

Again, technology is set to play a huge role in safeguarding and instilling confidence in employees. We can see once more, how adopting new platforms allows businesses to take a more proactive approach in engaging with their people and getting those metrics of their requirements.

Information collated from studies by organisations such as Indeed and CareerArc have also identified the importance of honing the recruitment process and bringing a greater degree of clarity in finding people to fit roles:

“Recruiting the right talent for your job vacancies is vital for running and growing your organisation, whether you are recruiting for full-time, part-time, or temporary seasonal workers.”
Making sure all candidates have a positive experience is essential not only because a negative experience is damaging for your brand but having a poor candidate experience can lead to 63% rejecting the job offer.

The report also highlights a few key statistics, demonstrating the impact of a negative recruitment process:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 new employees leave the company before the end of their first year
  • 20% of new employees will leave within the first 45 days
  • 5% of new employees quit immediately after a disastrous first day

The lesson for retail businesses moving forward will be to focus on the safeguarding of their people and to also take the time to refine their recruitment process. As much as businesses are keen to get back up and running and driving footfall through their sites, a hurried recruitment process will find businesses impacted in the long run in terms of cost and hours lost.

Talent retention strategies for leisure

Restrictions on international and domestic travel and overall curbs on social interaction have meant that the leisure industry has been faced with a one-two punch to its overall security.

Data suggests that the sector has been the hardest hit by the pandemic and it is understandable that business owners within the industry will want to hit the ground running as travel restrictions continue to ease.

With such a high percentage of jobs having been lost within the sector, it will be vital that businesses are able to demonstrate a commitment towards safeguarding their employees. Such volatile movements in job security will naturally have reduced employee confidence in the sector.
It is therefore important that business leaders within the industry understand that there will be a road back towards instilling this faith and that they must take a proactive approach when looking to recruit new talent or retain existing employees.

Technology once more will be a vital asset. HR teams should be encouraged to drive discussions with their people around any anxieties related to job security. Utilising these platforms as part of the recruitment process can also enable effective and clear expectation settings with new hires and can help foster an open and honest process whereby prospective new hires are encouraged to voice any concerns or requirements.

The onerous will be on business leaders to define and promote their company culture. In order to bring onboard and retain the talented people they need in order to succeed, businesses need to elevate themselves above their competition and position themselves as forward thinking organisations who put the wellbeing of their people first.


Regardless of which sector you operate in, it’s clear that strong employee retention will form the backbone of any successful business strategy moving forward and will be vital for business recovery.

We have seen how high incidences of retention can help save time and money for organisations by avoiding the necessity of constantly returning to the recruitment process.

We have also identified the importance of organisations fostering an open and upfront culture of communication. A demonstration of commitment to encouraging and nurturing an employee’s ongoing growth and development is a major requirement for many employees, and we have seen that introducing this as early as the initial recruitment stage can help businesses rise above their competitors as an attractive prospect.

We have also gained an appreciation for employee retention and how it allows businesses to retain their most skilled people and ensure that their invaluable, teachable knowledge isn’t lost needlessly.

Ultimately, we can see that technology and the adoption of new systems and processes is the thread that runs through everything. By demonstrating a commitment to continued digital growth, companies remain agile and more importantly, are able to stay connected with their people and gain an understanding of their requirements and how to ensure their satisfaction within the workplace.

New systems also allow businesses to be more proactive when recruiting, cultivating talent pipelines that focus on bringing people onboard with the specific skill sets needed to drive success within their organisation.

At Mitrefinch, we understand the power that technology has to transform your business and workforce. Our range of workforce management solutions are designed specifically to give you the oversight and comprehensive understanding that you need in order to ensure that your people remain engaged, happy and motivated.

We appreciate how crucial employee retention is to the success of your business. If you’d like to find out more about how Mitrefinch can help, our team of product experts are on hand to help.

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