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Stay With Me: How To Keep Hold of Your Best Workers

employee retention

Jill Whittaker OBE, Managing Director of The Executive Development Network, discusses how you can keep hold of your best workers by supporting them with a clear path towards career progression. She shows how apprenticeships can pave the way to such development.

It is likely every one of us has been forced to reconsider what is important to us professionally – and how our career affects us personally – since the changes in work behaviour following the pandemic. Businesses had no choice but to plough ahead and keep our economy moving but what satisfaction and changes in behaviour and expectations were left from staff.

Interest rates have recently risen again for the 12th consecutive time, increasing to their highest levels in 27 years. Whilst the Bank of England is arguably mildly more optimistic than complete gloomy outlooks of recent times there are still many significant challenges ahead and there’s never been a more important time for UK professionals to seek satisfaction from how they acquire their income.

UK workers have already been dealt multiple unsettling hands since March 2020, and with job security potentially destabilising again should the economy take a further battering, employee retention is an ongoing issue that is unlikely to be leaving us anytime soon. In fact, a staggering 95% of businesses we surveyed recently are still finding it harder to retain staff since the pandemic.

Waning employee retention

It was no surprise to me then, that when BUPA conducted its recent research into major factors affecting employee retention rates, a lack of workplace progression cropped up. BUPA revealed that over the past 12 months, there had been a 200% increase in the number of Google searches for ‘work progression’.

A team that feels it has no routes to upskill, rise up the ranks, or have its ambitions realised is likely to look elsewhere for opportunities. Clear pathways to workplace progression are key to workers feeling valued.

Value in education

Offering education and learning prospects that allow existing workforces to diversify and improve their skillset – and provide new recruits with an attractive and solid employee package – is key to ensuring improved company loyalty among individuals. And a more satisfied team will no doubt want to remain in their role for longer.

We have found that delivering flexible training via apprenticeships is essential to providing ongoing career progression for employees, no matter what age or career stage.

Even though more than 40% of organisations we spoke to are deterred by the risk that an employee would leave after completing this kind of training, these fears appear to be unfounded, as more than 91% of employees we surveyed said they’d be more likely to stay in a role longer if their employer invested in training from the outset.

When more than nine out of 10 businesses have agreed that further training investment would help recruit and retain more staff, it seems that apprenticeships, which can adapt to the needs of the individual and business, are an ideal place to start tackling any retention issues within a company.

Speed up the process

Introducing training courses via apprenticeship pathways for people at all career stages within your company probably sounds daunting. It’s understandable that almost half of the businesses we consulted with have been deterred from offering such development opportunities for new and existing workers due to the time investment needed – and more than a third are put off by the perceived financial investment.

But the flexibility of apprenticeships means that employers can ‘front-load’ a worker’s learning when they start a role, or training can be ‘accelerated’ if someone has existing skills in a relevant area. Both options are time- and cost-effective for employers, and 78% of employees would be willing to start an apprenticeship or training course if they could condense the learning into a shorter period. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

I have no doubt that businesses who introduce defined means of workplace progression to new and existing employees will reap the benefits of improved morale, and ambitious employees will want to reward your investment in them by sticking around – whatever the rest of 2022 may have in store for us all.



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