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Empowering Employee Retention

Reducing Staff Turnover: How SMEs Can Compete With the Big Players

Employee retention is a major topic for HR and business leaders in 2021. The challenges of remote working and employee wellbeing in 2020 have now led naturally to a desire in organisations to value and retain their talent pools.

Losing staff is an expensive experience. According to a 2014 report by Oxford Economics, the cost of losing an employee on a salary of £25,000 can be upwards of £20,000 when factoring in advertising, training and loss of productivity. That's a high financial hit that all HR practitioners and CEOs will be keen to avoid where they can.

The challenge for SMEs is that they often find it difficult to retain their most valuable people because they simply can't compete with the reward packages offered by their larger counterparts. The solution? SMEs can focus on other factors that help staff to feel motivated and more likely to stay.


How close-working influences employee retention

Working relationships within SMEs tend to be closer than those in large companies, and this works both as an advantage and a challenge. Positive team relationships are an important part of employee motivation, which in turn influences staff retention. On the other hand, there's no avoiding the personalities in a smaller team and any clashes will have a bigger impact on job satisfaction and staff turnover.

There are a number of ways to emphasise that tight-knit team feeling. Encouraging a culture of goodwill, where people give and take with each other benefits SMEs when extra effort is needed to get a project over the line. Small gestures such as completion parties, regular praise, treats, and a day off can cement those feelings of goodwill and encourage staff to stay because of that great working atmosphere and a genuine sense of acknowledgement.

According to the employee engagement specialist body Engage For Success, culture and working relationships contribute just as much as perks and benefits to low staff turnover rates, so it's worth taking the time to use tools such as coaching and team building to encourage close and positive working practices.   


Innovative staff retention strategies

SMEs are known for their innovation, and there's no reason that this can't be applied to a strategy to improve staff retention - even if there is a limited budget to it. Some suggestions include:

  • Give the team ownership. Placing faith in staff by giving them responsibilities will encourage staff to feel that they are part of the brand and the business, which in turn will make them feel valued and proud of the work that they do.
  • Deal with the 'niggles'. Ask staff what annoys them about their work and try to fix those niggles with them. They may be as simple as giving additional digital support or upgrading the coffee machine.
  • Offer mentoring. If nobody in the company has mentoring skills or experience, organisations such as Be The Business and The Association of British Mentors may be able to provide a mentor to help staff develop their skills.
  • Keep communication open. Communication goes hand in hand with engagement, motivation and retention. A policy of being open and honest with staff will go a long way to build loyalty.

Above all, asking staff how they feel about their work and what is important to them can offer valuable information and clues on how to keep them engaged and valued. In turn, helping to direct employee engagement practices that result in higher staff retention rates.


At Jaymes Byron Talent, we focus heavily on empowering employee retention. We do this by ensuring we understand our candidate’s and client’s aspirations, attitudes, and skill. This helps us identify the motivation behind applications and only place candidates with a genuine desire for the role and company we’re placing them with.