HR & Management

How to recruit and retain the best employees, whether they're working in the UK or abroad

8 min read

16 January 2019

Reporter, Real Business

It's no longer enough to 'sell' your company to employees once. You have to play the long-term PR game, and remind them of work benefits throughout their career with your company. This is especially important when retaining staff who are working abroad and who may be feeling isolated.

As we stand, in early January 2019, the Brexit riddle goes on. Whether the final result will be Prime Minister Theresa May stepping down, or leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn stepping up to the role of PM, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out.

As an SME employer your only option, during these dark, and uncertain times, is to take a look at your workforce, and think how you’re going to make your company a nice home for them, even if Britain no longer looks as welcoming.

So, how to stop those talented EU employees from leaving this merry isle? You have to make it clear why your company is a great place to work. In short, you have to highlight your company benefits.

But, it’s not just employees from an international background that you should be concerned about, British born employees are also more likely to reconsider their careers at this time of year.

Not only this, staff who are employed by you, but working overseas, need extra support if they are to continue to feel valued.

Call it the ‘new year, new me’ effect, but January is usually the time when employees are most likely to leave their jobs and make a career change.

You also have to think about recruiters. They know that employees are most likely to look for new jobs in the new year, and they pounce upon this opportunity.

But before you put your head in the sand and think, ‘there’s nothing I can do to retain my favourite staff’, The Health Insurance Group have are here to tell you what businesses can do better to keep staff loyal, and happy for the long-term, at home and abroad..

Be vocal about the  benefits

The way work benefits are communicated to employees, potential and existing, as well as when are also important things to consider.

Want to be the first choice of employment for the best talent? Then communicate your work perks right from the start, and especially when you’re advertising for roles to be filled.

You also have to ensure that this isn’t a one-time thing. The benefits of working for your company should be communicated to employees throughout their time of employment.

Remind them

Regularly reminding employees why they chose the job in the first place should reinstill a sense of purpose and loyalty to the company, and should encourage retention.

On the other hand, if you only communicate work benefits when you recruit and onboard staff, then let them fall by the wayside, later on, staff will feel like they were simply ‘being sold to’. This method may get the staff you want through the door, but it will not make them stay.

But how to communicate these benefits regularly? It’s simple. Send regular internal emails to staff, reminding them about the benefits that are regularly available, whether that’s a ‘cycle to work scheme’, free lunches, or simply work drinks.

Offer holistic support

Holistic support includes forms of care that go beyond physical health. This includes providing services, such as coaching or counselling support for employees who may be undergoing some personal issues.

The problems an employee may be experiencing could even be related to their job role, including stress about upcoming challenges, or tricky working relationships with other staff.

You can do it on a shoestring

Even if the ‘support-system’ in question is chatting to a senior employee, the knowledge that staff have such a facility should they need to talk to someone at work can be reassuring.

– It may even mean the difference between an employee staying on at a company or choosing to leave.

It’s an obvious but important point, if an employee is unhappy at work, they’re likely to look for other job roles, at other companies.

Stop them doing this by offering human support services, whether that’s simply someone (a fellow staff member) who is willing to listen to their issues in a confidential manner.

For staff employed overseas: Combat isolation and encourage integration

Whilst the above advice is great for recruiting and retaining talented staff on home turf, how about staff employed overseas who are repping your business abroad?

Only 54% of employers in their survey said that “offering health and wellbeing support to staff abroad is important for recruitment and retention”.

– This knowledge gap is concerning, as health and wellbeing at work have become popular concepts in the UK especially. But if this is not implemented for staff working abroad, who may already feel isolated, they could be more likely to leave your company.

“If employees aren’t told at recruitment stage what the total benefits package is, they have less incentive to join. And when they don’t know the total package they are entitled to, it can lead them to feel undervalued and tempted to jump ship. For employees abroad, it could be the difference between searching for a new role or deciding to stay.” – Sarah Dennis, The Health Insurance Group

Whilst mental health support is becoming a bigger priority in UK companies, it’s not always the case elsewhere. This means that employers need to be mindful of cultural differences when communicating company benefits in a bid to retain employees abroad.

For employees working abroad, the initial excitement of working in a new environment can wear off, and be replaced by other feelings, including stress, or even loneliness.

That’s why it’s important that employers offer support to help individuals feel comfortable in their new working, and living environments.

EAP experts can be a lifeline for retaining staff abroad

Being able to talk to someone who has been through the same situation can help. This can be found in a global employee assistance programme (EAP) where experts can highlight local community groups they could join to aid integration and help make friends.