Engagement and motivation are now considered more important factors in a business than the attraction and retention of employees, new research suggests.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) asked firms to rate their concerns and found that, for the second year running, worries that “employees don’t appreciate the value of the total reward offering” came top of the list, while the second biggest concern was that rewards were not engaging employees.

The research also discovered that “attraction and retention of key employees” had – for the first time since the survey began – fallen out of the top 10 list of concerns.

Pension costs made it into the top 10 list for the first time, which is not surprising considering the recent publicity over the Government’s auto-enrolment reforms which aim to encourage staff at private firms to sign up to a workplace pension.

However, the CIPD said it was a shock to find that many companies still did not regard the under performance of pension funds as a major risk. It said it expects this concern to become the second highest reward risk within the next couple of years.

Looking ahead, the survey found that attracting and retaining key talent will become the key concern once again, with the CIPD noting that it is “always crucial – in the good times and the bad”.

When the economy was in recession staff may have been less keen to move on, no matter what the rewards, in order to have the peace of mind that comes with job security.

But the CIPD advised firms not to be too complacent while they wait for the economy to pick up, warning that even in a stagnant labour market key talent can always find opportunities to move on.

And with official figures today revealing the UK is now out of the double-dip recession, more people might be looking at what other employment opportunities are on offer.

However, Charles Cotton, who is rewards adviser at the CIPD, did praise firms for thinking “more strategically” about rewarding the behaviours and performance that contribute to business success, saying this was very encouraging.