How to attract talent and – most importantly – keep it!

What makes a great place to work? The Friday afternoon drinks trolley, the free biweekly laughter yoga sessions, the massaging office chairs or an encouragement of flexible working, tangible opportunities for progression and being recognised for, frankly, doing a bloody good job?

Let’s take a look at what employees really want from their employer:

Valuing loyalty

Employee benefits are not just about attracting new talent; it’s so you can keep, nurture and enhance the talent you have. Indeed, we can all empathise with the feeling of frustration – or downright outrage – when seeing our bank/mobile phone provider/utility provider offering preferential deals to new customers and not us loyal folk who have been invested since day dot.

The same goes for long-standing, loyal employees. We’re all aware of the mounting cost of high staff-turnover (the loss of an employee earning £25,000+ a year carries an average financial impact of £30,614 according to Oxford Economics, so do you really want to incur this unnecessary cost and risk losing your talent to competitors?

It’s time to ditch the plans for the tube slide from the fourth to the second floor, and instead invest in a culture and benefits that reward, recognise and inspire.

“You’re doing a good job and you’re making a difference”

If you do nothing else, ensure your people are being told this.

The thought of employees simply working to live and to put food on the table is a depressing one. Uninspired, robotic output does not inspire business growth, nor adaptability, evolution and sustainability.

Recognition and fulfilment in a role, however, boosts motivation and productivity. A commitment to performance reviews and time with managers is key here. Yes, people do want performance reviews! How else are they to know they have made a valued contribution? How else are they to improve and progress?

And – prepare yourself – how about offering two-way performance reviews? That is, whereby team members in turn offer feedback to their managers. Surely there is nothing more motivating and fulfilling than to hear you’re doing a good job as a manager by those you manage?

Be authentic and live your workplace culture

If your people are not feeling fulfilled in their roles, perhaps it’s time to ask why not? Are they not buying into your company’s culture?

It is essential for your organisation to be authentic; know who you are, what you do and what impact you’re trying to make, and this applies to your clients, your stakeholders, your sector and your people.

If you’re not a family-friendly organisation, don’t pretend to be so (but also be aware that you are reducing your talent pool). If you’re a forward-thinking and creative organisation, don’t replace your meeting rooms with bean bag chill out areas to demonstrate this. Is having a ping-pong table really indicative of being a “fun place to work”?

Work-life balance

An HSE report, released October 2018, showed the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18 was 595,000. This amounted to 15.4 million working days lost. Recognition of, respect for and encouragement to maintain a healthy work-life balance is therefore essential to your business’s and your people’s wellbeing.

Flexibility within the workplace is key here. An expectation to perform in a prescribed setting or rigid 9-5 timeframe can be alienating for employees (particularly those with caring responsibilities), and those unable to adhere can be left feeling demotivated and questioning their worth.

As well as amending working patterns and providing opportunities to work from home, it’s important to support employees through this process – for example, providing the equipment to work from home or help with setting up the work space, in order to show investment and active encouragement in making flexible working a success for both business and individual.

Flexibility is also essential when assessing the generations in your workplace; they are at different stages of their careers and all want different things. What new parents want is very different to grads, so consider how to cater effectively for these different groups. From clear progression routes to on-site childcare or even bring your dog to work policies, generosity in your ability to be flexible and sensitive to the needs of your people is an employee benefit not to be underestimated.


It goes both ways and is achieved through being open and honest with your people.

Employees want to feel ownership and autonomy in their roles, which is borne out of trust in their ability to carry out their responsibilities – and to do so well.

They also want to feel trusted with shared information about the business, to be involved in decision-making for the future of the organisation, and allowed to voice their opinions or concerns and to be listened to.

Tokenistic gestures like an internal employee welfare group simply aren’t going to cut it, especially if action points raised aren’t…well…actioned!

At Tell Jane, we help you to develop and enhance your company’s culture, in particular by building one of openness and respect. We can make your business that great place to work.

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