How Argyll slashed attrition from 30% to 3.5%

Since rollout of the engagement platform, staff turnover has fallen from 30% to 3.5%

Office provider Argyll reduced turnover rates from 30% to 3.5% by bolstering employee recognition, as Honey Wyatt reports.

The organisation

Argyll is a flexible office provider that offers co-working spaces, private offices, virtual office services and meeting rooms across London. Founded in 1998, it now has more than 30 properties across the capital, customised to each organisation’s needs by the firm’s interior design service. Argyll also provides professional services such as IT support, receptionists, utilities, cleaning and administrative support.

The problem

The Covid-19 pandemic was a challenging time for Argyll as an office provider. In April 2020, nearly half (46.6%) of people in employment in the UK did some of their work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics. Demand for office space dropped off a cliff.

This was also a time that changed employees’ expectations, according to Emily Smith, Argyll’s chief operating officer: “In the property sector, as in many others, one of the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic was a growing demand among employees for more flexibility. We understood from our team that flexible working patterns would allow them to balance their working lives better and perform to their full potential.”

Argyll also experienced difficulties with retaining staff, reporting a staff turnover of 30% in 2022. As a result of the lockdowns, the outlook for office providers was bleak.

Read more: Four ways technology can reduce employee turnover

For the company to thrive after the height of the Covid pandemic, something had to change. “In order to compete successfully, it was essential that we brought down the turnover rate and created an empowering working environment,” Smith says.

“We used a reward and recognition programme to centre employees’ experiences and find ways to respond to employees as individuals. This is particularly important in the property sector, which historically has been perceived as somewhat of a laggard on diversity.”

The method

Argyll decided to invest in an employee engagement platform to help staff feel supported and rewarded for their hard work. The platform was initially introduced after the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, to recognise employees’ contributions at work. It also acted as a community hub for showcasing employee excellence.

Smith encouraged leaders to use the platform, to encourage uptake. “As with the rollout of any new platform, initial uptake of our reward and recognition platform was a little slow at the beginning. However, our leadership team helped to encourage use of the platform by using it to showcase employee excellence and work, which meant it became more widely adopted across the business,” she explains.

“Now, following positive feedback, the platform has evolved to allow our team to celebrate their own successes as well as those of their peers, and to ensure that individual preferences for reward and recognition are catered to.”

The platform empowers employees to not only share feedback that they know will be heard and responded to, it also enables them to communicate their preferred methods of receiving recognition.

This allows managers to customise their recognition efforts, offer personalised mentoring and build relationships across various seniority levels.

Following the successful implementation of the engagement platform, Argyll introduced All-Star Awards, a quarterly employee award scheme that celebrates people who bring its brand values to life.

Intended to champion behaviours, or how team members go about their role, rather than outcomes, the awards offer employees the opportunity to nominate each other.

“This anchors reward and recognition into our organisational culture,” explains Smith.

The Argyll team also introduced tailored benefits. “We wanted to ensure that the benefits we offered gave employees were what they truly wanted,” Smith continues. Guided by employee feedback, the business’ leaders introduced perks such as free breakfasts, career anniversary celebrations and monthly wellbeing development.

To further its focus on addressing high staff turnover, Argyll’s leaders adopted a bespoke approach to flexible working, which means that employees can set out their preferences for flexible working arrangements right from the start of their employment. “We also have policies that go above and beyond government mandates and industry standards, such as our commitment to offering 12 weeks’ full pay and 12 weeks’ half pay for maternity, adoption and surrogacy,” comments Smith.

The result

Smith notes that the flexible working policy has been particularly successful: “Many of our employees have told us they have found our approach transformative. Some reported that it has helped them significantly with balancing work and childcare duties."

Alongside positive feedback from employees, the success of Argyll’s reward and recognition programme is evident in its hugely reduced turnover rate.

“Since the rollout of the platform, over just two years, our staff turnover has fallen from 30% to 3.5%,” explains Smith. On top of this, Argyll was awarded the Great Place to Work accreditation in 2023, which included an acknowledgment of the success of the scheme.

The most important takeaway from the project, according to Smith, is the power of recognising and rewarding employees. “The impact that recognising and rewarding employees’ contributions can have on their wellbeing and our overall workspace environment is immense,” she says. “Undertaking and responding to feedback has allowed us to shape our policies to truly benefit our staff.

“With employee needs evolving, employers must ensure they are being proactive, rather than reactive, in offering support. Listening to employees and taking stock of market changes will help develop a positive and transparent working environment. In turn, this benefits both employees and employers.”

Argyll employs 202 people across 28 locations worldwide, and has an HR team of three.


This article was published in the May/June 2024 edition of HR magazine. 

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