The war for retention

3 min readJun 8, 2022

In education, as in pretty much every sector, there is a huge issue with retention of staff. This is also not an issue which only affects the UK either; this is a global issue.

So keeping your staff is hard; well try recruiting new people into your organisation, and that is just as tough. According to the British Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Recruitment Outlook, January 2022, 79% of businesses report having trouble finding the right people.

People can now, in many roles, work from anywhere, as long as they can connect to the cloud and internet.

A recent report said 69% of UK workers are ready to move jobs right now. One interesting fact is that salary of course still plays a significant part but the post-pandemic shift for people wanting to leave are:

  • stressful working environments
  • feeling a lack of appreciation for the work they do
  • lack of career progression opportunities.

How can we keep them?

When asked what would make them stay they stated that more money, more appreciation, improved work/life balance and better rewards. So with money being stretched in all sectors with the cost of utilities and materials etc skyrocketing then paying more may not be an option but the good news is that is not the only thing which will keep your staff happy and with you.

The thing which amazes me most when I speak to people on a regular basis is their frustration at ‘being made to go into the office, when I could do a lot of my work at home’. With people having to sit in traffic or the car for a few hours every day when they could simply do the work as well from home.

Whilst I totally agree that many cannot work from home and so that does not apply, when it doesn’t, why are we making people come into offices? Is it so we can see what they are doing? Surely, if tasks and output measures are put in place, then the amount of hours which a member of the team does is not the measure. It is easy to see if they are doing the work and doing a great job
Simple things first

It has always amazed me that too many leaders struggle with giving praise when it is clearly due. Does giving praise mean that you cannot have a tough conversation with the same individual when something isn’t up to standard or needs addressing? Absolutely not! As @BreneBrown wonderfully puts it in Dare to Lead (a book I highly recommend for all leaders and can be found here):

‘Clear is kind’.

If a member of your team is doing great, then tell them and tell them often. Vulnerability as a leader or manager is not a weakness. I believe the exact opposite. So, for no more money staff are simply wanting praise and appreciation for their work. If that is one of the key reasons then surely it is the simplest to fix surely?

Better work/life balance

So how can we make the work/life balance better? Some are looking to 4 day weeks whilst others are looking at the flexibility for their teams. I have some great examples in Education where no teaching and learning takes place on a Friday and that admin and other tasks can be completed anywhere, whether that be at home or in the building, and yes this model is working positively for them.

So, as the world changes and people have a greater choice of what they do, then the need to think about how we retain our talent is vital.

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