Attract and retain talent

01 April 2020

Michelle Hobson, HR services and technology director at Moorepay, reviews and relates research findings.

With 10,000 customers across the UK we have conversations with business leaders all over the country, every day. And overwhelmingly the issues that concern them are how and where to recruit the skilled staff they need – and how to keep them.

Despite the uncertainty in the national and global economy, the UK labour market continues to show record levels of employment which, when coupled with slow (and slowing) wage growth, is encouraging talent to shop around. How are employers to compete for skills in this increasingly buoyant labour market? How can they differentiate themselves from their competitors? And what steps can they take to encourage their valued people to stay?

In our comprehensive Employee attitudes survey, which ran late last year, we spoke to over 2,000 employees and more than 350 businesses. We wanted to know what employers can do to make their employees feel valued, whether the benefits offered have an impact on how valued employees feel, and how these change by sector.

We saw some strong variance across industries in employee responses to the question ‘In general, to what extent, if at all, do you feel valued by your current employer?’. Employees in retail and transport and distribution feel the least valued by their employers, while those in real estate and construction feel the most valued.

From our survey we know this often flies in the face of perceived wisdom within businesses. One of the key takeaways from our Engaged Employer report was the existence of an ‘employee value gap’: while employees feel undervalued, employers are often unaware. For example, 85% of small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) surveyed think their employees feel valued, yet just 71% of SME employees say they feel valued by their employer – the equivalent flight risk of 12-in-every-100 employees.

So, what would help to make those employees feel more valued? With a decade of lost and low real-term wage growth behind us, it is perhaps unsurprising that financial benefits (salary, pension, etc) are highly valued. However, it is also clear that employees want flexible as well as financial benefits.
Beyond the top financial rewards, it is flexibility that holds most appeal for SME employees, with four of the top eight most attractive benefits offering some form of flexibility or improvement to work–life balance. Flexible or remote working is viewed as the third most important benefit overall, cited by one in four (26%). The option of working a four–day week is important to 24% of respondents, and performance–based leave is prioritised by one in ten (10%).

So, while you can compete on pay, it may be more effective to look at the flexible benefits employees most want their employer to offer in their industry; see the chart. The four-day working week is top of most employees’ wish list, except in real estate where flexible and/or remote working comes out top.

In developing a more valued – and more loyal and productive – workforce, employers must do more to find out if their employees feel valued and what they expect. By understanding their expectations employers can develop benefits programmes that are employee-focused, and which take into account the value and relevance of different benefits to employees at different ages and life stages.

There’s a tremendous opportunity for quick-acting businesses to get on the front foot in this race for talent – and see the rewards on the bottom line. We hope this research helps you when putting together package(s) to attract and retain talent in your industry.

Chart showing benefits by sector (percentage) Manufacturing Construction  Retail Finance and Accounting  Hospitality and leisure Legal IT & telecoms Media/ marketing/ advertising/ PR & sales  Medical & health services  Education  Transportation & distribution  Real estate  Other
Childcare vouchers 4 7 4 4 5 7 4 5 6 3 3 5 4
Community leave 9 8 12 7 12 12 11 18 10 8 10 6 8
Discounts on leisure and shopping 14 12 12 7 15 18 11 18 16 19 15   11
Employee assistance programme 9 6 9 5 4 7 6 13 7 14 5 6 7
Flexible and/or remote working 24 26 15 21 12 27 15 26 24 19 10 29 17
Four-day working week


49 25 51 22 47 48 55 32 28 32 17 39
Holiday buy, sell and trade schemes 22 19 19 11 22 21 18 22 20 6 17 12 14
Longer paid parental leave 9 11 9 11 10 15 11 15 17 8 9 6 8
Professional development and training 18 18 16 13 11 20 20 28 22 11 22   20
Socialising space within work environment 15 8 10 11 12 15 7 20 9 5 9 6 12
Team social events/functions 10 9 12 9 9 9 9 13 10 3 9 12 10
Workplace childcare/nursery provision 7 6 6 8 4 8 8 11 3 6 8   6


This article was featured in the April issue of Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward magazine and was correct at the time of publication.