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The holidays are over, the next bank holiday is months away, the nights are growing darker, and the weather is going to get even worse than it already is. Depressing, huh? 

Well, according to recent research it’s these factors that result in over half (53%) of the UK’s workers’ thoughts turning to job hunting in September[1].  More than half also said they believed it was their employer’s responsibility to continually motivate them.

Whilst it’s a fairly sobering thought that, right now, effectively half of your staff/colleagues are thinking about leaving, but to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

So what can you do to encourage staff retention without breaking the bank?

1. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback from staff is good way to find out how satisfied they are and if there are any issues that need to be tackled.

A classic method of 360º feedback is ‘stop, start, continue’ whereby employees are asked what the company should stop doing, continue doing, and start doing. Any recurring themes in the feedback should be addressed either with an explanation as to what steps will be taken to in the future, or why it cannot be redressed.

Be aware that asking for feedback can open a can of worms if you do nothing with it. If you’re not committed to making changes, ask managers within the business to feedback on any issues verbalised by staff on a quarterly basis. This should help you gauge the level of staff morale and identify any endemic issues.

2. Time things

Timing annual pay reviews or any good news when morale is traditionally low following holidays, such as in January or September, may give your staff the recognition and motivation they need to stay, without you having to spend more.

3. Upgrade your equipment

The standard of working conditions and equipment is often overlooked by businesses, but is a key factor in staff satisfaction. Poorly maintained offices can make staff miserable and are unlikely to impress visiting clients or suppliers. Similarly, ageing computers, frustratingly slow internet speeds and old, tatty, handed down mobile phones do nothing to make your staff feel valued.

By shopping around before renewing a contract you may be able to save money and upgrade your equipment without spending any extra.

4. Keep staff in the loop

Broaching the subject of career progression can be difficult, especially within a small company, where opportunities may be limited. However, by sharing and engaging staff in the business’s growth plans they are more likely to appreciate that their role may grow with the company, be motivated to work towards a common goal, and stay with the company as a result.

shutterstock_259902827-25. Improve staff morale

Teambuilding activity can be very effective at creating a positive buzz among the workforce and does not need to break the bank. Charity volunteering is becoming increasingly popular among businesses for its ability to give staff to have an interesting ‘break from the norm’ and create additional personal development opportunities. Activities can take as little as two or three hours and could involve anything from fundraising for a favoured charity, to redecorating a local homeless shelter. This should incur minimal costs, and can also generate positive PR opportunities with the local press.

6. Offer flexibility

Whilst costing a business very little, flexibility can have a significant effect on job satisfaction and employee retention, with just under a third (30%) of people saying they wish their employer was more understanding. Most businesses now allow staff to ‘make up time’, rather than lose pay, to go to the doctors/dentists or if stuck in traffic, making them look considerate without losing any staff productivity.

7. Consider remote working

Similarly, allowing staff to work from home to fit in with domestic issues conveys a message of trust and considerateness that is universally well received by staff. The advent of cloud computing and smartphones have made remote working realistic, cost-effective and practical.

In the business-world getting a ‘heads up’ is a rare luxury and knowing that your staff are likely to be suffering from the September blues and feeling listless gives you the ability to make a pre-emptive move.

Bearing in mind the inconvenience and growing cost of having to recruit to replace staff, approximately £30k per staff member, taking good care of the ones you have is simply good business sense.

[1] According research by jobs board, CV-Library.

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