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As the general election approaches, plans affecting the economy will take centre stage in manifestos published this week. The skills shortage and issues regarding immigration are under the spotlight, alongside scrutiny over how leaders will drive down inflation to ease the ongoing cost of living pressures on employees.

Here we examine how employers can use their total reward strategy to unlock the power of their employer brand to drive down recruitment and retention issues they face.

Priorities for 2024

April remains the most popular month to carry out pay reviews across organisations, meaning many employers will have already have made decisions regarding pay awards. While many employers implemented the highest pay awards in over a decade during the last two years, many are looking at their pay and reward approach holistically to define the total reward strategy for the year ahead.

Pay benchmarking and looking at the efficiency and success of the pay review process are key priorities for HR agendas in the year ahead. Making sure that internal processes are accurate and follow best practice is important to reassure employees that they are the subject of an objective and fair reward system.

People are increasingly seeking transparency and fairness, making pay benchmarking essential. This helps drive down employee turnover, bolstering recruitment and retention when people know they are being paid competitively and equitably. Achieving pay parity and benefits benchmarking are key objectives for HR in 2024, highlighting the role that HR has to play in delivering a robust system that attracts and retains the right talent.

Culture wars

The war for talent persists, especially when certain skills are highly sought and there is competition for certain roles and experience. However, with the pressure on pay packets and employers striving to deliver meaningful pay awards within affordable budgets, having a strong employer brand can achieve differentiation beyond the question of pay and benefits.

This starts with understanding the culture of the organisation. Taking stock of what the reality of the culture and working environment is should be the starting point to really understand if there is any discrepancy between what a firm promises its people and what it is delivering.

Organisations that can define what they stand for and what they offer people, and where the leadership team sets the tone around the culture they are intentionally creating, truly build a brand that has a shared vision. Organisations must be consistent with the message and the behaviours they want to reinforce. Employee advocates are crucial to building a strong employer brand. Social media should echo and amplify practices that are already rife internally. Recognition of colleagues who have been recognised for their expertise or values-led work, such as pro bono/charity, being an LGBTQ+ or social mobility advocate in the sector, show the culture in action from an external perspective.

Values-led strategy

Environmental, social and governance issues are increasingly prominent issues for all stakeholders who want to scrutinise their record. Therefore, any disconnect between the values espoused by an organisation and the reality of working there can be easily exposed by social media and platforms such as Glassdoor. Understanding the motivations of people is integral to building strong cultures. Employee opinion surveys can be essential tools to uncover the shared ambitions, values and feedback that can help inform total reward strategies.

Part of being intentional about the culture an organisation is creating is defining what it will and will not tolerate. If wellbeing is important to the organisation in terms of what it prides itself on offering its people, how is it committing to reimagining working practices of its employees? Employee opinion surveys can also help to overcome accusations of ‘wellbeing washing’ that can face organisations, as a recent report warns that there is a disconnect between what employers and staff view as valuable when it comes to promoting workplace wellness.

If the focus is on driving greater efficiency and productivity, how is this being defined and why is it integral to the organisation? For those that are prioritising productivity, ambition and growth, opportunities will be the key recruitment and retention message for motivated individuals who have a shared vision for success.

Every organisation is tasked with defining what flexible working looks like for their employees. While there are some roles where this is untenable, particularly in roles and sectors where you have to be in the workplace in front-line jobs, flexibility is increasingly expected in some capacity. This question will be crucial to the culture that the organisation wants to be known for. For those prioritising equity, diversity and inclusion, flexibility can tap into talent pools who often face barriers to work, geographically and physically, so being values-led in policy making can also inform the culture.

Delivery of the total reward strategy

Line managers are often seen as the key to the effectiveness of the delivery of the total reward strategy. However, recent research has found that nearly half of UK managers are too overwhelmed to do their job. Many have shared that they want greater support to be better managers.

Often the issue with the progression to management is that people are promoted based on their success in their current role, based on a particular skillset. However, management level requires the breadth of skills that need to be developed alongside technical expertise that promotions are usually based on. The issue is that line managers are the gatekeepers to the strategy being activated across the whole organisation – tasked with setting objectives, agreeing working arrangements and growing cohesive teams.

It is essential that line managers are upskilled in people management. A third of managers said they needed clearer policies and guidelines on recruitment, performance management, employee relations and disciplinary procedures. This is essential for them to be able to give consistent strategic assistance across their teams to provide the right development opportunities and ensure that they are aligned to the overall vision of the organisation.

Get in touch

Nurturing a culture that attracts and retains the right talent starts with understanding what that culture is. Truly interrogating and articulating this will be absolutely crucial to how far an organisation can attract the talent they're looking for and the talent they want to develop. Contact us today to discuss how you can drive down your employee turnover and foster a culture where everyone can thrive.

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