Bosses urged to put a stop to brain drain

Louisa Harrison-Walker, director of Benchmark. Picture: Andrew Roe
Louisa Harrison-Walker, director of Benchmark. Picture: Andrew Roe
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How does Sheffield City Region hang on to workers when London is exerting such a powerful pull?

Answer: look after them properly.

Bosses need to ‘step up’ and realise they have a vital role in retaining staff by ensuring they are trained properly, according to Sheffield recruitment firm boss Louisa Harrison-Walker.

Induction, development and review were key to ensuring they understood the culture and their role – especially in an SME – so they bedded in properly.

The call comes after the Local Enterprise Partnership announced plans to create 6,000 businesses and 70,000 private sector jobs in the next 10 years in Sheffield City Region.

Louisa, a director of Benchmark Recruit, said: “I think employers can be guilty of not training staff and that’s why you see them leaving.

“Recruitment and retention involves induction, training and review. Very few do all of that, they are useful tools to iron out any bumps and make sure people are bedding in properly.

“The culture fit in SMEs is way more important than skills.

“Training for bosses is important too. To keep staff, the company has to develop so they can develop.”

But despite the recession and redundancies, it was still a jobseekers’ market, she added.

“I come across many businesses who are held back because they can’t get the right staff.

“Firms want someone who is proven and will be productive from day one – but it can take three or six months to find them.

“There’s a misconception by employers that there is an abundance of people ready to work because of the recession. The skills shortage actually means it’s a candidates’ market.

“This is why a lot more of what we are doing is headhunting.

“Invest in the people with the right attitude because the skills shortage isn’t going away.”

Conor Moss, business engagement fellow and principal lecturer at Sheffield Business School, said the training focus should be on high level skills.

He said: “I think the biggest issue for preventing the ‘brain drain’ is the ambition of the Sheffield City Region. “Whilst there is evidence that businesses are reinvesting in skills, there is still a disproportionate focus on developing lower level technical skills associated with the traditional industries in the region.

“Of course we should encourage investment in developing employees, however, we need to raise the aspirations of the skill levels we expect and create more high-skilled opportunities here in the city region.

“The RISE programme supported by Sheffield City Council and the two universities is a great example of the benefits talented people can bring to a business.

“The graduates and ‘top’ talent today have different expectations of the type of role they want. They want to feel valued and engaged.”