An employee is for life, not just for Christmas!

An employee is for life, not just for Christmas!


Author: Michael Briggs

Applies to: UK wide

The Christmas period is a wonderful time for all. A time for family, friends, mulled wine. but did you know it's also one of the most popular times for employees to 'mull' over their career prospects?

Those working in HR and recruitment will be aware of the influx of resignation letters and job applications that are often delivered in the New Year. So what can employers do to prevent those 'January blues' and ensure higher retention rates?

Employee retention is largely based on employee engagement and job satisfaction and retention rates are very important to a business' success. Aside from the obvious facts (your loyal employees know your business, they know your clients, your procedures, your teams), from a purely financial viewpoint, recruitment and training costs are an unnecessary expense when funds could be better spent elsewhere. Aside from all this, staff morale will remain high if your workforce is stable and happy.

Below is an outline of some basic house-keeping exercises that will assist to prevent valued employees leaving, and protect employers in the event that they do.

1. Happy employees = productive employees. But how to tell? Simple anonymous 'Employee Satisfaction' or 'Engagement' surveys will help management identify where things may be slipping up, and areas for improvement.

That said, what comes out of any survey depends on what goes in. Employers should therefore stress the importance of being open and honest when completing these and stress anonymity at all times. Employees are only human and are more likely to answer questions honestly when they are not faced with the prospect of having their feedback scrutinised by their line manager at their next review! Where surveys are used, management need to be sure to act upon the results, including any negative feedback, thereby ensuring improvements are made.

2. Conduct regular one-to-one meetings. A simple, yet oft-forgotten practice in the hectic realities of busy commercial life.

The frequency of such meetings will depend on various factors, including the seniority and autonomy of employees. Whilst more junior employees may value regular feedback and guidance, senior employees may consider this micro-managing. Employers are best-placed to judge the regularity of such meetings on a case by case basis but, from an employee-relations perspective, something as basic as an informal chat every now and then, in which employees feel valued and listened to, may help to identify any problem areas and reduce the chance of employees moving on to pastures new and/or competitors.

3. With longer-standing (and therefore, often highly-valued) employees, consider conducting an interview asking why they stay with the business.

Much like the point above, the feedback extracted from such discussions will be invaluable in improving employee-retention strategies. Ask questions such as why they stay, what would make them leave and what could be improved to ensure their continued employment.

4. Undertake a review of contracts of employment, especially for senior or when promoting employees.

Not only is this a very sensible thing to do from a legal perspective, it is also vital to ensure protection in the event that senior and/or key employees resign unexpectedly. Employers need to ensure that any post-termination obligations are up to date and reasonable and when someone is promoted those obligations need to be revisited and tailored to the new role. Obligations relating to confidentiality and intellectual property rights should also be updated at the same time.

5. Review incentives.

This could include financial incentives such as bonus schemes, salary reviews and pension contributions, as well as non-financial incentives such as 'dress-down Friday', car-valeting, dry-cleaning pick up, free fruit, etc. Much like a lot of things in life, it's the little things that can make a difference when seeking to improve retention and satisfaction rates.


This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

About the Author

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Michael Briggs

Senior Associate

0370 086 5066

Michael is an experienced employment lawyer who provides practical, commercial and results-driven advice to a wide range of clients in respect of disciplinary matters, redundancy & reorganisation, absence and performance issues, employment contracts & handbooks and executive appointment & exits. Michael also defends employment tribunal claims.

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