Retaining employees will be one of the biggest challenges in 2022 UK firms, says new research. 

In its annual employer survey, the HR solutions provider SD Worx found British companies say both attracting new workers and keeping them are their most problematic HR issue. 

Worryingly, 44 percent of businesses also put staff welfare and resilience second on their list of concerns, after worker retention. 

Focus on culture

SD Worx says this means that companies are now focusing heavily on culture and how to make workplaces safe spaces for employees. It says firms are putting the ‘human’ back in Human Resources by creating more people-centric workplace policies.

This, it says, is doubly important to stem the mass exodus caused by the Great Resignation – an issue that is expected to worsen as LinkedIn research says January 31st is the most common day for workers to resign. 

“UK businesses are facing a talent shortage of epic proportions. It is no surprise then to see businesses are investing more time and effort in their most important assets: their people,” says Colette Philp, UK&I HR Country Head at SD Worx.


Get the data

CEO of the Unilever spin-out platform, uFlexReward, Ken Charman, says one of the reasons for low staff retention figures is a lack of data. He says the combination of salary, pension, benefits and training are not all documented, so HR leaders still do not know what people are being paid, or if they are paid equitably. 

The lack of data also means they cannot predict which employees are likely to leave because of poor pay, or which ones are likely to leave because of a lack of flexible working. If HR leaders do not know what their employees want in the future of work, they will not know if they are giving their workforce the right reasons to stay.

 Research from the American workforce upskilling firm Degreed shows the role of managers in creating strong workplace cultures is particularly important. It found that of those people who want to leave their jobs, 92 percent are more likely to feel that their manager has not meaningfully supported their development over the past year. This, says the firm, might be curbed if managers were given additional training for a variety of skills, including to support staff.

“In the data of the UK workers included in the report it was evident the key role managers play in the professional development of their employees,” said Dan Tesnjak, vice president for EMEA at Degreed. “Among the most common actions taken by managers in the UK to support their workforce is recommending learning resources or growth opportunities, making them the main link between companies’ business objectives and developing the skills needed to achieve them.”

 Cathy Geerts is the Chief HR Officer at SD Worx, she says: “As employees increasingly take their careers into their own hands, prioritise a healthy work-life balance, and expect everything to happen according to their rhythm and wishes, HR needs to pull out all the stops to keep up. Hence the people focus of today’s HR challenges. Those who can guarantee happy, productive, and healthy employees have the keys to long-term success and keep their talented employees.”