How can employers hold on to their star talent? As the economy shows some positive sign, staff retention could be an issue for employers once again.

It is widely accepted that the recruitment of permanent employees can be a time consuming and costly exercise for employers. Accordingly, once the ideal candidate has been found and secured, how do employers keep the treasured employee in situ?

It is worth remembering that if an employer found the employee desireable enough to recruit in the first place, its competitors are equally to consider them to be a valuable asset to their business.

Of course, the incumbent employer can seek to prevent the employee being poached by ensuring that they are signed up to well drafted restrictive covenants. Employers are also entitled to protect their proprietary and confidential business information - which again should be specifically recorded in the employee's written employment contract.

In addition employers can ensure that they are offering an attractive package to staff which includes a competitive salary, tax efficient and attractive benefits including salary sacrifice schemes for childcare vouchers / pensions and offering flexible benefits.

But, maybe it's not just all about the money! Loyalty may be earned because employees feel their current employer respects their work life balance or, they might appreciate a clear opportunity for career progression, or they might feel valued and recognised by their employer in numerous other small ways.

And that might be just as well, in these difficult economic times when budgets are under pressure everywhere. Employers need to understand what really matters to their employees and find creative ways of meeting those desires.

So, if the financial package is not the only driving force behind an employee's decision to stay with their employer, how can employers invest in the emotional contract with their employees?

Kerry Weir, Head of HR Avis Budget EMEA Ltd says:

"Our people are our greatest asset' or 'We value our people' - these are common clichés used by business but very few businesses actively attempt to retain their people or reward loyalty. Businesses who truly value their people look to both retain staff and reward loyalty. However, for any retention or loyalty programme to work it needs to be valued by the people, which is often quite difficult to achieve as people value different things. It is important to understand what is valued by employees and provide a programme that meets this. The use of working groups or project teams with employee representatives is one way try to gain a true understanding of what employees actually value and want".

It might not be just about the money after all...


With the new regime of pension auto-enrolment on the horizon, perhaps now is a good time for employers to be reviewing their remuneration packages in conjunction with planning how to reward loyalty and retain staff and in the future.