Tips to attract and retain both a British and EU workforce

This year we expect recruitment to continue to be a challenge, and the need to attract and retain a skilled workforce will become essential employers of all sizes.

Employer brand

Organisations often consider their branding from the perspective of customers. Spend time thinking about how your organisation may be perceived by prospective candidates. Arrange a meeting with your marketing team and plan amendments or tweaks you may be able to implement to make you a more attractive employer. For example, you might review the job page on your website (or make one if you don’t have one!) from the perspective of a candidate. Consider the voice and tone of communications going out, promote yourselves being enthusiastic about what you do and the people who work for you.

Consider any nuances that you may have as an employer, an organisation or industry. Work out makes you special as an employer and promote this about yourselves. As a unique selling point might be that sets you apart from other employers.

Particularly bearing in mind an EU workforce, consider emphasising your equal opportunities policy, demonstrate diversity where possible and promote any best practice HR approaches to give confidence in job security. You may want to emphasise any links you have abroad, such as client bases, offices in Europe or even other languages used within the business.

Types of contracts

All contracts have pros and cons to them.

Fixed term contracts are notoriously less desirable to a prospective candidate as the nature of them means that work is not guaranteed long term. For EU workers worried about residency, consider offering permanent contracts in favour of fixed term where possible, as this is likely to reassure them of stability. Remember you may still utilise a probation period to part company if things do not work out.

Zero-hour contracts offer no guarantees of consistent work or pay, although there is nothing to suggest they may not be permanent in duration. They can be ideal for individuals who need flexibility and can offer employers a ‘bank’ of workers to make up any shortages in the workforce.


Flexibility in working patterns and locations should be thought about when advertising or making job offers. It may be worthwhile considering how much flexibility you can offer to increase both the number and calibre of the talent pool.

Policies and bonusses

When reviewing your employer brand, you may also consider your policies as part of your internal communications. Rejuvenate them by making them more appealing to read, user friendly, proud and aligned with the company values.

Many employers offer a bonus scheme in respect of things like attendance policies or performance schemes. These can be used as a tool to attract candidates and improve retention. Arrange for bonus related payments to be made in February or March to incentivise staff and to avoid them getting ‘itchy feet’ in the notorious new year. Make the payment conditional upon the individual not being in their notice period and/or subject to a minimum length of service e.g. 1 year, to further dissuade resignations.

Enhancements and Benefits

Review the perks your organisation has to offer. Check how much take up they have and whether these are valued by staff and if they reflect the current interests and lifestyles of your workforce. As part of salary benchmarking exercises, you may also want to consider whether your benefits and enhanced terms are comparable, if not better, than your competitors’.

Flexible Working

This is not just about allowing all staff to start and finish work earlier or later. Requesting flexible working is a statutory right for those who meet the eligibility criteria. It may redefine the existing working pattern in a way that can be reasonably accommodated by the organisation. Accommodating such an arrangement can give individuals are far improved work life balance. The mere willingness to genuinely consider let alone accommodate a request is likely to improve retention, particularly if your competitors are unlikely to implement the same flexibility. Again, promoting your support of a forward-thinking approach to work will also do wonders for your employer brand.

Management by Walking About! (MBWA)

If you don’t already work closely with your staff, then making yourself visible and therefore accessible to everyone in the business can be a useful management technique with many benefits including employee engagement and commitment.

It is a fantastic way to take a temperature gauge of the general feeling in your workforce and it enables you to be more sensitive to whatever may be brewing! You can then be more responsive, better able to manage things in a subtle and informal way, avoiding the need for time consuming formal procedures such as grievances, mediation, disciplinaries and stress related absence management.

This method also makes you aware of any trends or positive behaviours that you may be able to praise to improve morale and endorse a clever way of working. It is generally accepted that job satisfaction may be significantly improved, simply by improving the atmosphere of the day to day working environment.

You may become more aware of signposts to staff who are a flight risk. A crude example being, if you notice that someone books a half day leave and comes into work looking particularly smart, you may be able to deduce that they are interviewing elsewhere!




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