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Employers expecting struggle to retain talent in 2024

Some of the biggest challenges for UK organisations right now include retaining skilled talent, meeting pay expectations, providing a good work-life balance, and supporting employees’ wellbeing.

That’s according to new research by HR software provider Ciphr, which conducted a survey of 300 UK HR decision-makers and found that organisations are facing around 11 different workplace challenges or HR pain points, on average.

Over half (51%) of respondents reported employee retention as their top worry for the year ahead. Many (46%) also think that their organisation could struggle to meet employees’ expectations around wages, work-life balance, and mental health and wellbeing support.

Over four in ten (45%) organisations also expect to find recruitment, employee engagement, and managing remote and hybrid working expectations challenging.

Other key concerns include providing a good employee experience (42%), closing skills gaps (42%), reducing absenteeism (41%), and ensuring a positive workplace culture (41%).  

The top 15 challenges facing UK employers right now

  • Retaining employees / keeping top talent (cited by 51% of survey respondents)
  • Meeting employees’ pay expectations (46%)
  • Providing a good work-life balance for employees (46%)
  • Supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing at work (46%)
  • Meeting employees’ remote or hybrid working expectations (45%)
  • Recruiting enough qualified talent (45%)
  • Maintaining an engaged workforce (45%)
  • Providing a good employee experience (42%)
  • Promoting talent from within to fill skills gaps (42%)
  • Reducing absenteeism caused by work-related stress (41%)
  • Ensuring a positive workplace culture (41%)
  • Investing in / providing regular employee training and development opportunities (40%)
  • Encouraging employees to attend the physical workplace (40%)
  • Managing budget shortfalls (39%)
  • Investing in new technology for the business (38%)

Commenting on the survey findings, Claire Williams, chief people and operations officer at Ciphr, highlights the necessity for organisations to recognise that their people are their greatest asset, and that business success is contingent on continued investment in their employees. She said: “Like it or not, the world of work is changing. Employers need to step up and invest in their people if they want to hire the best talent and then retain them.

“Employers are facing a range of challenges. A volatile global economy that has fast-changing and sweeping ramifications for our labour market. There’s salary inflation that’s not been seen at this scale before (recently, at least). Technical advancements continue to evolve at lightspeed, expanding digital skills gaps. And we have multi-generational workforces with wildly different expectations and demands from their employers when it comes to values, purpose, flexible working, diversity, social impact, and so on.

“Many organisations are also being impacted by tighter budgets as they are having to invest in new technologies, increase their compliance standards and levels of professionalisation, and mature their business to keep up with competitors and the market.

“Investing in your people, however, doesn’t necessarily need huge budgets. It does require leaders to invest in a different mindset though. Those that fail to recognise and respond to these challenges will ultimately be left behind.”

Williams recommends that employers keep a strategic focus on their people. She adds: “Go back to basics if you need to and overhaul your employee value proposition (EVP) to ensure that you have considered every aspect of the employee experience. Use data from existing employees and recent leavers to understand where there is room for improvement. And do some research into what other organisations are doing well.

“Budgets aside, the biggest investment that employers can give is their time. Creating clear purpose, transparency, and good communications, a strong and forward-thinking culture, diversity and social impact – all come down to the time that leaders are willing to put in and spend with their employees. It’s the easiest, yet most frequently missed, action that organisations can take and it will – very likely – have the biggest, positive impact on employee experience and retention.”

Ciphr commissioned Onepoll to conduct an independent survey of 300 HR decision-makers in February 2024. The results, including charts showing the types of challenges that are impacting different-sized organisations and industries, are available at https://www.ciphr.com/infographics/challenges-and-priorities-for-employers-in-2024.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

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