Resignation and retention: BIALL Conference 2015 Senior Managers Stream

"Brighton Royal Pavilion" by Xgkkp - Transferred from [1]: 2004-06-24 13:37 . . Xgkkp . . 124676 bytes. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Brighton Pavillion

Did they leave or were they pushed? That was the title of my presentation at this year’s BIALL conference at the Brighton Hilton Metropole last month. I was invited to speak on the subject of why people leave jobs, or rather, employee turnover and retention.

As part of the Senior Managers Stream, I shared the platform with Jane Bradbury from Slaughter & May talking about KM in the legal profession, and Ruth Bird from the Bodleian Law Library who spoke on lessons learned from moving, relocating and renovating libraries.

As a recruiter I meet a lot of people who are thinking of or have already decided on leaving their current employer. It would have been tempting to spill the beans on some of the more lurid reasons I’ve heard over the years for resigning, but I decided to be discreet and look at some of the more solid research around voluntary departures, to use the official HR term. According to a PwC survey from a few years ago, money is not at the very top of the list: limited prospects and lack of support for management come ahead of money worries.

What is more worrying for employers is the potential cost of staff turnover. Research from Oxford Economics suggests that the average cost of replacing a member of staff is over £30,000, and that’s before you factor in the costs of induction and training. To head off the risk of unwarranted turnover, the CIPD has a checklist for developing an effective retention strategy:

  • Give employees a realistic job preview at interview stage
  • Make line managers accountable for staff turnover
  • Maximise opportunities to develop skills and career progression
  • Ensure wherever possible that employees have a voice through consultation and effective appraisals etc
  • Be flexible wherever possible to accommodate individual preferences in working hours and time, and avoid a culture of presenteeism
  • Provide as much job security as possible
  • Treat people fairly
  • Defend your organisation against penetration by headhunters (that's an interesting one for us here at SHR…)

We had a lively discussion afterwards particularly around the subject of flexible working, and it was great to continue the conversation with old and new friends and colleagues at the conference dinner. 

Many thanks to the BIALL committee for inviting Sue Hill Recruitment to speak again at the annual conference. My full paper will be appearing in Legal Information Management later this year.


– Donald Lickley

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