Retaining Skilled Workers in the STEM Sector: Tips for Employers

Retaining Skilled Workers in the STEM Sector: Tips for Employers

With the demand for skilled workers at an all-time high within the STEM sector, individuals with the right skillset are valuable assets for employers. Retaining these skilled workers is one of the biggest challenges for businesses.

Employee turnover is incredibly costly, particularly where the gaps left by departing employees require to be filled by highly skilled candidates.  Employee turnover is a major challenge for STEM organisations and can hinder growth as well as profitability. Estimates suggest that the cost of replacing an employee — encompassing recruitment, hiring, and training — can be as high as 50% to 60% of the departing worker’s salary.

Despite the severe impact that high turnover can have on an organisation, many businesses within the sector do not prioritise retention of their skilled workers. However, there are numerous initiatives that STEM employers can implement to help reduce turnover of skilled workers and increase employee retention.

STEM employers should ensure that salaries are competitive with industry standards and reflect the value of their employees’ expertise. Additionally, comprehensive benefits packages, including health insurance, retirement plans, and performance-based bonuses will increase retention levels. Similarly, employers should ensure that they recognise their employees’ efforts and achievements and could consider implementing incentive programs such as the award of additional paid time off for reaching specific goals.

Employers within the STEM sector should also ensure that they invest in their employees’ professional growth by offering continuous learning opportunities. This could include providing regular training sessions to keep skills updated within an everchanging landscape, offering sponsorship for further education, certifications, or further degrees. Employers should also ensure that they discuss clear pathways with the employee for career advancement, showing employees their potential growth within the company. This will assist with aligning employee development with business goals, ultimately leading to increased employee retention.

It is also crucial to remain at the forefront of technological advancements and foster a culture of innovation among skilled workers. Employers should invest in research and development initiatives to drive innovation and should actively encourage employees to contribute ideas for new developments. Ensuring that employees are involved in meaningful projects and giving them ownership of their work will assist with engagement. From an operational perspective, employers should ensure that they are involving their employees in decision-making processes and encourage their input on company initiatives. Employers should conduct surveys and feedback sessions to understand employee concerns and suggestions. It is necessary for employers to evaluate their policies, procedures and strategies based on employee feedback and industry trends while ensuring that they proactively identify potential issues and address them to prevent turnover.

Remote working is a common culture within STEM sector organisations and employers who do not offer such arrangements will be less desirable for sought after employees. Employers should promote flexible work hours, remote work options, and reasonable workloads. Flexible working is also key in the ongoing effort to close the gender skills gap which remains prevalent within the sector. For more information on this, refer to our previous blog on closing the skills gap within the STEM sector.

Effective leadership is critical for employee retention. Employers within the sector should ensure that their management team can maintain open lines of communication and be approachable while offering guidance and resources to help employees to further their careers. Employers may consider creating a mentorship program where experienced employees can guide newer staff, fostering a sense of community and aiding in their professional development.

Retaining skilled workers in the STEM sector requires a multifaceted approach that prioritises employee satisfaction, professional development, and a supportive work environment. By implementing these strategies, employers can build a loyal, motivated, and skilled workforce capable of driving long-term success and innovation. If you would like more information on these topics, do not hesitate to contact one of BTO’s STEM Employment law experts.

This update contains general information only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.

Dawn Robertson, Partner & Accredited Specialist in Employment Law: / 0131 222 3242 / Connect with Dawn on LinkedIn

Kimberley Tochel, Trainee Solicitor: / 0141 221 8012 / Connect with Kimberley on LinkedIn