14 March 2024

The Lifecycle of a Business – Getting the most out of recruitment and motivating and retaining valued staff

Setting up and running your own business is an amazing achievement. It requires vision, creativity, motivation and stamina. On occasion, it can even bring you fame, riches and fortune. But it can also result in reams of paperwork and cause sleepless nights. And as someone once said to me about children “It doesn’t get easier, it just changes”, so the same can be said for your business throughout its lifecycle. From setting up to exit, it will force you to consider issues that you might not previously have known anything about and it will need you to make many decisions, sometimes very quickly. What it certainly is not is mundane.

With this in mind, the corporate team at Forsters, together with some of our specialist colleagues, has written a series of articles about the various issues and some of the key points that it may help you to know about at each stage of a business’s life. Not all of these will be relevant to you or your business endeavours, but we hope that you will find at least some of these guides interesting and useful, whether you just have the glimmer of an idea, are a start-up, a well-established enterprise or are considering your exit options. Do feel free to drop us a line or pick up the phone if you would like to discuss any of the issues raised further.

We’ve already discussed various topics, such as, set up, directors, funding and shareholder-related matters, but now let’s concentrate on "Employment: 9 to 5".

Getting the most out of recruitment and motivating and retaining valued staff

Our recent article talked about the steps that a first-time employer needs to take before they actually employ any staff . We’re now going to think about the next stage.

A plethora of factors is causing employers to step back and evaluate their approach to staffing; factors which have been around for a while but which, cumulatively, are having a significant impact.

First, there was Brexit, which resulted in the net migration out of the UK of a notable portion of the workforce. This was followed by COVID-19, which triggered a seismic shift in working practices, including a move towards home and hybrid working. There has also been the introduction of Gen-Z into the workforce, who have brought with them a fresh mindset and different approach to established working norms. On top of these, economic factors, including higher interest rates and the “cost-of-living-crisis”, have resulted in job applicants requesting more from their remuneration packages. All of these factors have shifted the priorities of the workforce and have changed the demands being placed on employers.

So, how can an employer ensure that they appeal to the right recruits for their business? How can an employer motivate somebody to reach their potential in the business? And how might an employer look to retain valued individuals?

We’ll consider some potential responses to these questions below.

Recruiting for your business: not just a job role

The nature of recruitment has changed steadily over recent years, with the involvement of recruiters becoming increasingly prevalent, as opposed to individuals approaching potential employers directly.

With this “middle-man” approach seemingly becoming the norm, it is important that you (as an employer) know what you are looking for. Are you looking for an individual to fulfil a perfectly sculpted job description? Or, are you looking for an individual who can grow with the business as a long term prospect? The likelihood of finding the best talent will be increased by focusing on the latter.

A high-level job specification and having an awareness of the key competencies is very important, but actually contemplating how the successful recruit will integrate with your existing workforce is paramount. Recruiters not only have on-going relationships with employers, but with candidates as well, and will be very familiar with the candidate’s personality and their fit with your business. Therefore, being able to articulate the personal specifications that you envisage the successful candidate having has become just as important as knowing what their role will entail.

Motivation: getting the best from your workforce

With the labour market becoming fairly volatile, it is particularly important that employers know how to both motivate and retain their workforce to ensure that they stay incentivised to give their time and energy to your business.

When looking to motivate an individual, the key lies in effective two-way communication. Line managers should seek to understand what an individual is seeking to gain from their role: this could include taking on specific types of work or specialist projects, for example. There might be a long term goal that the individual wants to work towards (such as a promotion or qualification), and working towards this together is likely to incentivise the individual to equally invest their time in the company when they appreciate that the company is also investing in their development.

Financial motivation is also a reality. Following the introduction of gender pay reporting and ethnicity pay reporting, there is a growing conversation surrounding pay and remuneration transparency. Although reporting is not a requirement for all businesses, much of the workforce are beginning to look towards, and expect, transparent remuneration structures.

How to keep those motivated individuals working for YOU

Motivation and retention employ similar techniques, but whilst motivation is best seen through a professional lens and can be identified as having a cohesive workforce where everybody is positively achieving their individual professional goals and the goals of the company, retention tends to take a more personal perspective and results in individuals staying at a company long-term.

Retention can result from the “perks” of a job, including a competitive benefits and remuneration package, an inclusive culture and a sustainable work-life balance. Strong remuneration and a benefits package have long been the key ingredients for retention within the job market, but the cultural aspects of a workplace are becoming increasingly significant. For example, in determining what makes a “good employer”, employees now often cite the importance of an employer nurturing diversity and allowing individuals flexibility in their working day, including flexibility of working hours and location.

The younger generation of the workforce are increasingly looking for an environment that nurtures their authentic selves which means that, if an employer is looking to retain their workforce, they would do well to allow the differences amongst their workforce to thrive and be recognised.


This note reflects the law as at 13 March 2024. The circumstances of each case vary and this note should not be relied upon in place of specific legal advice.

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