The number one HR challenge for businesses is ‘attracting better talent’, according to a recently released report, with 39% of firms seeing it as a key issue to overcome.

The second biggest priority is reducing staff churn, with 37% of HR departments looking to reduce employee turnover.

The research, conducted by Morgan Redwood, is based on responses from the Heads of Human Resource departments or Board Director level from over 250 businesses. These have been drawn from across the UK and from a mix of sectors and a range of company sizes, with two thirds employing over 250 people, and none less than 50.

The HR emphasis on attracting better talent is in contrast to a previous Morgan Redwood study conducted in 2009, which indicated HR departments focused on encouraging teamwork and drawing out the best from the existing work force. In the latest 2015 report, the issue of employing more and better staff ties in with the fact that businesses are looking to grow – with 42% of firms planning on doing so according to the latest findings.

Janice Haddon, MD of Morgan Redwood said: “Operating a business in 2015 is a very different proposition from operating a business in 2009. The shift in economic circumstances means different priorities. The emphasis now is very much on growth, so therefore employing the right people is essential.”

Reducing staff turnover, at 37%, being the second biggest priority for HR departments, is in contrast with Morgan Redwood’s 2009 study, where reducing staff churn was seen as the thirteenth most pressing HR priority, indicating a considerable swing in requirement.

Janice said: “2009 was an employer’s market, with employees regarding themselves as lucky to have a job in a tough economic climate. Fast-forward to 2015 and improved employment possibilities and growth in the job market means staff have increased opportunities to look elsewhere. Now HR departments need to both retain good staff and recruit additional talent, using improved economic stability to develop and shore up a dependable work force.”

Janice added: “Job seekers today want more than just a job. They need a career with a package to look after their needs. Employers should be offering potential employees the right culture and a fantastic place to work. Doing so will put organisations ahead of the competition, meaning people both want to work with you and want to stay with you.”

She concludes: “Creating the right culture is crucial. You need strong leadership, slick recruitment processes and a focused people strategy in place. Get it right and your current employees will become the best ambassadors for you. Get it wrong and you will be on a rollercoaster of high turnover and low performance.”