Competition for the very best talent is intensifying. While attracting new talent remains a challenge, and the volume of unfilled vacancies is still extraordinarily high across all sectors, one solution for businesses is to think up-stream and instead focus on retention.

Placing an added emphasis on caring for existing employees is a sensible strategy. Retaining the talent already within an organisation helps promote a thriving and harmonious environment and minimizes the demands of onboarding and training new starters.

So how are organisations rethinking their retention strategies and what can be learned from those who are doing this successfully?

The obvious solution is to address reward. Longstanding employees will find themselves penalized for not moving frequently and benefitting from salary hikes. One approach is for employers to benchmark salaries based on changing market rates. Some businesses are even offering existing employees an improved package commensurate with those commanded by new starters.

Furthermore, while the UK experiences a growing cost of living crisis, employers have the opportunity to show their support to their workforces by acknowledging the role they can play in alleviating some of the pain – and gaining some positive sentiment into the bargain.

Refreshing policies around parental leave, sabbatical opportunities, perks and other benefits are also going to be heavily favored. Employees recognize that a new opportunity is not risk free – removing the motivation to move to keep up with market rate salaries and benefits makes sense for both parties.

Secondly, businesses can support retention by embracing flexible working and a hybrid approach. The competing views around the merits or viability of remote working are well reported, but what’s inescapable is that for many, flexibility is highly valued.

Employers can show empathy to their pandemic-weary and burnt-out workforces by rethinking when and where they expect their teams to deliver work. Technology, client expectations and market trends have set the scene for this shift. Insisting on returning to a permanently office-based approach is likely to be the deciding factor for many employees on the fence about taking advantage of a highly liquid market.

Learning and development are also a great way for businesses to invest more in retention than recruitment. Enhancing your value proposition by incorporating comprehensive opportunities for your workforce to grow and develop allows you to live your values authentically where these align with the career goals of your workforce.

Focusing on retention is a sensible approach to combatting the expensive competition for talent. Current market conditions place power disproportionately in the hands of candidates. But deciding to move is still a gamble. For employers, a fresh look at retention could be the ace up the sleeve they’ve been searching for.