Top barriers to employee retention

We all know that retaining employees, particularly top-performing ones, is a staple of a successful business. If only it were as easy to do as it is to understand. Modern businesses face a raft of barriers and challenges that didn’t exist 50 years ago. The workforce is more mobile, more ambitious, more demanding and more capable of shifting than ever before. On the other hand, employers now have a range of capacities and strategies available that also weren’t there before. Recent research from Robert Half’s Salary Guide offers some compelling insights into the matter.

Size matters

Of course, the first step to retaining talent is acquiring it. When asked how challenging it is to find highly skilled professionals, 25 per cent of HR executives surveyed said it was very challenging and 61 per cent said it was somewhat challenging. However, some important differences exist between different-sized businesses. Large businesses reported finding it easier (18 per cent very challenging, 56 per cent somewhat challenging, 24 per cent not challenging), while small businesses found it much harder (37 per cent very challenging, 59 per cent somewhat challenging, 4 per cent not at all difficult).

A similar picture emerges when asking how concerned businesses are about losing top talent in the coming year. The survey reveals 89 per cent of small businesses report being either very concerned or somewhat concerned, compared with only 82 per cent of medium-sized and 79 per cent of large businesses.

All about the benefits

This trend isn’t surprising. Small businesses generally can’t compete with the big dogs on many benefits, including income, advancement and training – a fact that the Salary Guide confirms.

When businesses outline which employee-retention strategies they use, it becomes clear that larger businesses outcompete their smaller peers on resources as they can provide strong, structured advancement. On mentoring, employee recognition and flexible hours, small businesses generally either match or exceed large ones.

Play to strengths

So how can medium-sized businesses – or any business for that matter – compete when it comes to acquiring and retaining top talent?

The trick is in identifying the opportunities and obstacles that each business type provides. Small businesses can’t compete on resources, but they often provide a platform for growth and development. Large businesses can afford the bells and whistles, but so can other large businesses, so they risk losing their staff to competitors who make more effort in the “personal values” department.

Medium-sized businesses are caught between the two. Here, positions tend to be more structured and limited, and they also often lack the advancement opportunities of larger organisations. However, they usually do have sufficient resources to throw some time and money at creating the sort of work culture that generates loyalty and employee satisfaction. Each business faces its own unique obstacles, but also has unique assets and opportunities that the business can leverage for employee retention.

The greatest barrier to retention that any business faces is indifference – the unwillingness to pay attention to retention. How does your business compare with our findings on employee retention?

For advice on how to keep your best staff, read our 4 expert tips on employee retention.

Share This Page