Employee wellbeing is the second biggest focus for HR leaders in 2024, with only staff retention ranking higher in the list.
Research by WorkBuzz found that it had moved up five places from last year in terms of priorities for the 400-plus UK professionals who were surveyed.
The platform’s State of Employee Engagement Report 2023/24 also revealed that recruitment was ranked third by respondents.
According to the findings, almost nine in 10 (89%) HR leaders think that retention is becoming harder or remaining the same, with only one in 10 (11%) believing it is getting easier.
More than three in four (77%) said productivity or performance is not improving at their organisation, with the biggest barrier to this highlighted as being recruiting employees with the required skills, or upskilling and training existing staff, cited by one in four (24%) of respondents.
Commenting on the findings, Steven Frost, CEO of WorkBuzz, said: “Organisations are prioritising retaining their best talent, with a greater emphasis on supporting their wellbeing.
“For the last 18 months we’ve seen employees’ real earnings squeezed by high inflation, strikes throughout the public sector and workers tempted to switch roles for higher pay, with some actually needing to. Employers are responding with higher pay rises, but are expecting more from their people as a result by placing greater emphasis on improving productivity – up six places on last year.”
Despite the challenges of talent recruitment and retention, the report suggests a fall in employers’ focusing on learning and development, as well as employee engagement.
Frost believes that it’s vital for organisations to take “a long-term perspective to nurturing their own talent and creating cultures where people choose to stay”.
He added: “The key is to ensure employees have a voice so that HR professionals can find out what’s happening in their particular organisations. The findings can then inform action plans, allowing HR to tackle its greatest people challenges. If employees can’t feedback their thoughts and ideas, and aren’t given the opportunity to influence change, how can they be expected to stay, grow, and feel motivated enough to perform at their best?”