WHY STAFF RETENTION SHOULDN’T BE AN OUTDATED CONCEPT
The days of someone securing a job after leaving school and staying there until they collected their golden carriage clock, have long gone. Research shows that UK workers will change employer every five years on average but Jenny Donald, a partner at Black Country 2.0 business partner, Forresters, asks if this is good for business.
It feels like the concept of ‘a job for life’ belongs to an era where Black Country delicacies such as groaty pudding and grey peas and bacon were served up on dining tables stretching from Stourbridge to Aldridge.
In the early 1900s work was often hard, but people regularly talked about the great love and loyalty they had for the companies that employed them. This could be because they often worked alongside friends and relatives, the business owner would regularly chat with them and ask their advice, while perks included day trips as well as family fun days to see who would win at the tug-of-war.
Today, ensuring that employees are happy and motivated is still an essential factor in a company’s success, and those with a high staff turnover are often the ones that struggle to meet targets and build good relationships with customers. Saying ‘Employees are a company’s most valuable asset’ has become a bit cliché but by providing good pay, uplifting work environments and rewarding benefits, employees are more likely to stay with a company for longer than average – which is five years according to life insurance firm LV=.
Forresters began more than 130 years ago, and we’ve always worked on the principle that if you treat your employees well and value the work, they do then your company will reap the benefits. This ethos is probably one of the reasons why several of our current partners joined the firm as trainees.
Here are some of the ways that we’ve made staff retention a focus at Forresters:
Training and development: Every year we recruit several new trainees and support them through their exams to becoming fully qualified patent and trademark attorneys. Even during the last year, while other firms cancelled their training programmes, we continued with ours.
We worked out a way of still being able to mentor our trainees remotely and the hard work paid off. Recently we announced how, despite a challenging year, nine trainees had passed their exams with flying colours – five of them completing their finals.
Clear career paths: One of the reasons so many former trainees are now partners at Forresters is that they can see a clear career path ahead of them. Trainees can go on to become associates, senior associates and then partners.
They can specialise in an area that really interests them, and still work their way up the ladder. In our other company departments such as HR, operations, finance and marketing we ensure that each person receives the training and investment they need to operate effectively within the company and achieve their own career goals.
We recently hired our first HR apprentice, and he is doing really well. He has access to a wealth of knowledge and support in the HR team and is able to visit our other offices. We believe that these positive experiences will certainly help him in completing his apprenticeship.
Part of the team: Forresters supports various charity initiatives including a unique triathlon in Hampshire, which raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support, and a sports fund for youngsters in Liverpool. We also give our backing to various schemes where we help innovative companies and start-ups reach their business objectives.
All our employees have the chance to get involved in these activities which see them attending events, taking part in races and speaking to business owners. Also, Forresters is led by various committees, which is another initiative that staff are encouraged to get involved in.
Brand Ambassadors: A business's success isn’t down to one person – it is the team that makes a company stand out from the crowd. We may have a structure at Forresters, but everyone who works for us is considered a brand ambassador. So, when it comes to career days or events, we encourage all employees to get involved – they are all the face of our company.
This often makes a massive difference to the view people have of our company. For example, one of our trainees recently told us that the reason they joined the firm was that they had spoken to one of our employees at a careers event – they heard so many positive things it encouraged them to enrol.
Benefits and perks: Today’s competitive job market mean that skilled candidates are often not just looking for the best career opportunities, but also the best benefits and perks. One of our biggest perks is that there is a great team atmosphere at Forresters.
For example, our Birmingham office organises a VIP lunch once a month for the team there and everyone gets to vote on where we buy food from, such as Pret a Manger, Dominoes and Greggs. We all down tools at the same time and meet for a chat and a mingle.
We also have some great perks such as fresh fruit throughout the week that we can help ourselves to, free drinks and a fantastic healthcare plan as well as flexible working.
One thing we have learnt from the past is that companies that value their employees and treat them as their number one asset are generally ones that have stood the test of time. A
company may offer great pay and benefits – but something you can’t put a price on is how they value their employees and invest in their long-term growth.
Forresters has been recognised as one of Europe’s Leading Patent Law Firms in the prestigious Financial Times listing. With offices in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Munich and Southampton.
Forresters is able to service a broad range of clients from individuals to large multinationals. Current clients include businesses and individuals in engineering, pharmaceuticals, software, electronics, food and drink, sport and entertainment.