With the job market so buoyant, it’s never been more important for employers to retain their best employees and attract the best new talent out there.

A new study, carried out amongst 139 small business owners, has revealed that a robust and effective HR and recruitment policy within a business plays a vital role in this, with careful thought given to what employees are really after.

Staff want more than just a salary

The survey, carried out by Citation, established that while financial incentives elsewhere were a common factor in employees leaving their business, over a third agreed that a lack of opportunity for personal growth was a pivotal factor in driving staff away.

When asked what they felt was the most important factor in employee retention, almost half agreed a positive working environment came first; compared to just 13% of employers who believed salary and financial incentives were most important.

A valued workforce leads to business prosperity 

What this demonstrates is that, to get the most out of their employees and to find the best staff, employers have to do much more than simply offer financial rewards. To create an effective workforce, employees need to be seen to be engaged with, offered opportunities and have their individual contribution to the business appreciated.

The study found that an overwhelming 93% of small businesses agree that employee engagement is the most important factor in achieving business success, highlighting the clear correlation between a happy workforce and business prosperity. Over 60% of those surveyed agreed that the link between HR strategy and financial growth was direct.

Analysis of the results concludes that creating a culture of loyalty, commitment and engagement between the employee and the business, through an effective HR and recruitment strategy, is key. It identifies social support and social perks as effective ways in which to do this.

Missed opportunities

Nevertheless, the study also reveals that two thirds of businesses have not reviewed or made proactive changes to their HR and recruitment strategy in the last two years, meaning poor and outdated policies may be having a negative impact and hitting staff retention in many small businesses, and opportunities are being missed.

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