Trying to retain &/or recruit staff? Does it feel like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? What is going on?!?

Unlock Your Wellbeing Blog

Trying to retain &/or recruit staff? Does it feel like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? What is going on?!?

You have a GREAT Vacancy – you announce it – and silence….. Tumbleweed….. Why isn’t anyone interested? Read on for insights into why this is happening in many industries.

The last couple of years have seen such a major schism in the landscape of work that it is leaving many organisations in a state of flux – if not panic. Recruitment and retention is really tough right now.

Why are people leaving in droves? Where are they going to and why? How can you make your organisation attractive to would be employees – who may have more than one offer of work and who are weighing up their options? Why would they choose YOUR organisation over another?

What does the research tell us?

Some insightful research has just been completed by McKinsey and Co, who have looked at the factors involved in high attrition (leaving) rates and also what it is potential workers are looking for in a new role.

The first thing to say is that people are STILL resigning in very large numbers, which creates all kinds of problems for organisations. 40% of workers are thinking about resigning – in the next 3-6 months!  WHY?  Where are they going?  The results are surprising.

McKinsey refers to the 3 R’s




Reshuffling – their research showed that a whopping 48% of those leaving are going to work in different industries. They aren’t joining the “competition” but are seeking something new.

Reinventing – traditional employment is taking a hit – people are leaving and choosing other ways to work – part time, self-employed, gig, temporary. Of those who did return to the workplace, only 29% returned to traditional, full-time employment.

Reassessing – the tremors of the pandemic have led some to leave for a caring role – family, children, even themselves. These demands have now been prioritised over work

For all of the above reasons, we see that the pool of talent has SHRUNK

17% – did not return to the workplace

48% – did not return to the same industry

35% – found a new job in the same industry

McKinsey highlights some industries who have been particularly affected

Industry % leaving & NOT returning to industry Industry % leaving & NOT returning to industry
Consumer /Retail 76 Travel, transport, logistics 55
Public Sector 72 Technology, media, telecoms 55
Finance & Insurance 65 Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals 54
Industrials 64 Education 54

It is certainly a job searchers market at the moment with record vacancies, skill shortages, fewer hurdles to changing industries, gaps in CV’s no longer/less of an issue, geographically people being able to work for an organisation at some distance – even another country. All of these are opening up their opportunities of where and who to work for. You need something to be a magnet to attract would be employees – so you need to know what THEY are looking for

Hiring? What do potential employees want?

Traditional “levers” may no longer work for less traditional workers.

McKinsey found:

The top 6 factors to ATTRACT workers were: (so increase these!)

  1. Meaningful work
  2. Workplace flexibility
  3. Wellbeing & Health support
  4. Geographic ties and travel demands
  5. Safety of workplace environment
  6. Inclusive & welcome community

The top 6 de-Motivators were: (so decrease these!)

  1. Poor compensation
  2. Inadequate Career development/enhancement
  3. Unsustainability of work expectations
  4. Inadequate or unreliable support at work
  5. Lack of caring & Inspiring leaders
  6. Poorly accessible resources

This is great guidance to follow – but different types of people are attracted to different factors, so it may well be role dependent on what your offer focuses on. McKinsey identifies different groups – do read their report for fuller details of the wants and needs of each of the following “types”

  1. The Traditionalists – looking for remuneration, perks, status. However, there are not enough of these “Traditionalists” to meet the number of vacancies
  2. The Do-It-Yourselfers – looking for autonomy, flexibility, meaningful work and good compensation
  3. The Care-Givers – work is not their only priority – looking for flexibility, support for health & wellbeing and career development
  4. The Idealists – students and younger people – they are looking for flexibility (part time included), career development, meaningful work and supportive colleagues – compensation is lower down their list
  5. The Relaxers – careers not so important. Maybe early retirees, or not really looking for work unless something “special” was offered. That “special” would be meaningful work and it would come with the flexibility they are looking for.

Your search for future employees may need to be more focused.  It may mean changing, even lowering, requirements for some jobs, reaching out to groups who may struggle to get on to the employment ladder – those with a criminal record? People recovering from illnesses or with disabilities? Those who took early retirement? Younger people – more Apprentice schemes? The fact is – companies need to hire from the existing employee pool, not the one they wish for.

Looking beyond the more traditional offers, job searchers are looking for meaningful work, flexibility, more supportive workplaces and inspiring leadership. If you cannot offer what they are looking for, job seekers will look elsewhere – and other organisations may well be offering it, meaning that you will not attract the talent you need.

If you are offering any of these “perks”, ways of working shout about them in your recruitment – they can make the difference and attract applicants. Showcase how you achieve them, give actual examples, so it doesn’t look like you are just listing items, but that they are really part of your culture and values. Let them know about career development, your positive and supportive culture, your wellbeing policy etc.

You have successfully recruited – how can you now hold on to your precious workforce?

McKinsey suggests the following 4 actions companies can take

  1. Focus on the traditional offering – is it the best it can be? Career paths, compensation, benefits, having a good boss, and the overall prestige of the company.
  2. Less traditionally – flexibility, mental health support, and behavioural benefits, a strong company culture, and different forms of career progression – being creative, more personalised in applying these.
  3. Broaden your talent-sourcing approach, especially since some non-traditionalists are not actively looking but would come back for the right offer, and if they are happy they will stay.
  4. Make jobs “sticky” by investing in more meaning, more belonging, and stronger team and other relational ties. Building these organisational attributes will also make it harder for traditionalists to go elsewhere for a bit more pay. Always remember the effectiveness of respect and appreciation in the workplace – great things to encourage and showcase.

How can Unlock Your Wellbeing help?

Improving culture often starts with management – ALL layers of management – by their demands, ways of working and modelling behaviour they want to set. Our i-act  Managing Mental Health course is a one day course which will eave you with a LOT of ideas about producing a positive culture as well as ways of dealing with and preventing, mental health or wellbeing issues – a MUST have.

Want to provide great support for your staff and colleagues? Have you got as comprehensive an Employee Assistance Program as possible? And do you encourage its use?

Want to provide specific support for the mental health and wellbeing of your staff? Have you invested in training 1 in 10 of your employees in Mental Health First Aid? We can deliver this in house to you – in person or online. Just like physical health, mental health can be apparent in the workplace and deserves to be taken seriously. We deliver shorter Mental Health Awareness training too.

Do you have Wellbeing Plans for all? Do you have a Wellbeing Task Force? Do you celebrate different “days” of the year to reduce stigma? Do you have a wellbeing in the diary – perhaps monthly “Lunch’n’Learns”?  We have a wide range of topics and ideas to get you started. Some examples are Reducing Stress, Increasing Resilience, Happiness in the Workplace, Unhelpful Thinking, Reducing Conflict – lots more to choose from and we can provide more “bespoke” options too.

How well do your teams know each other? Building self-awareness can increase communication, understanding and kindness – as well as improve productivity, creativity and leadership – we can now bring the Jigsaw Discovery Tool to you and your teams – great for team building, onboarding, etc.  It is great fun to complete but has important and serious lessons for everyone.

Getting positive Wellbeing and Mental Health onto the agenda and into conversations has great benefits for workplaces – employees feel supported and safe and are unlikely to leave. When they can THRIVE and develop safely, employees will want to stay.


Anne-Marie Gawen

August 2022

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *