The struggle for staff retention – how to keep hold of your key employees

Alex iMultiply By Alex Allen, Head of Public Practice, iMultiply Consultant

17 April 2019

With unemployment rates at their lowest level, we now find ourselves operating in a ‘candidate driven’ market. It has never been more important for practices to turn their attention to retaining staff, say career experts iMultiply.

As recruiters we speak with people on a daily basis who are looking for their next role. This offers us a unique insight into what motivates people to move jobs, and what their current employer could have done to keep them.

You may think it odd that as someone who makes a living out of moving people into new jobs, that I want to share my insights about improving your staff retention.

However, it benefits me reputationally when I place someone in a new job and they have longevity in that position. And that only happens in organisations where staff retention is taken seriously. These are the type of organisations that I want to be associated with.

Here are my top tips for staff retention:

1. Show me the money

This is perhaps the most obvious one. As an employer if you are not paying a competitive market rate then there is a very good chance that your staff will be looking elsewhere. This means keeping on top of market conditions by regularly requesting salary information from recruiters and where necessary adjusting salary bandings to suit.

In some situations, for example an employee moving from a small accountancy practice to a large FS organisation, this won’t make any difference. However, candidates moving within the same sector often don’t move for large salary increases, so being competitive on salary could mean the difference between losing someone or retaining them.

2. Working from home

The issue of flexible working patters and agile working is one that I come across daily. It is high on the list of priorities for many candidates and you don’t have to be a millennial to have some expectation that your employer will afford you a degree of flexibility.

Most employers will now say they offer flexible and agile working, but there is a massive difference between those organisations who pay lip service to the idea and those that have it officially written into employment contracts and their culture. I don’t tend to see too many CV’s from people employed by the latter.

3. Psychological safety

As the saying goes “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses” but I think that could be expanded to “they leave cultures”. A culture that is lacking ‘Psychological Safety’ is one where competitiveness dominates, people hog credit, put others down to improve their own standing, don’t listen and talk over one another and where there is a constant state of threat and manipulation.

If an organisation has any of these traits, then there is likely to be a high staff turnover. This culture should be changed and improved for the sake of staff retention.

4. It’s good to talk

Communication is key. Environments where there are both formal and informal channels for staff to communicate and raise potential issues without fear of recrimination are essential to good staff retention.

Communication should be regular and two-way and ideally shouldn’t be left to an annual appraisal – which may be too late to stop a key staff member from leaving.

If you would like to have a further discussion regarding staff retention then please get in touch with Alex Allen, Head of Public Practice on 0141 648 9150 or by email.

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About us 

iMultiply is a specialist finance and executive search firm operating from our offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast. We engage differently. Our business model is founded upon our Customer Satisfaction Survey which ensures that our consultants' commission directly correlates to exemplary customer feedback.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.


  • Career development
  • Leadership and management

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