In a competitive talent market, it can be easy to dismiss turnover as inevitable. When we lose high-performing people, we can simply point to market forces outside of our control. But it’s crucial to adopt a proactive mindset by focusing on what leaders can control to retain talent. Let’s explore some of the top 10 reasons why employees stay at companies and what leaders at all levels can do about it.
1. Feeling Valued and Respected
Employees stay because they feel valued and respected. This is the not-so-secret sauce: It’s far less tempting to look for greener pastures when your leader and colleagues treat you with dignity and respect.
Leaders play a huge role in creating this culture, so we must develop them to excel. In DDI’s foundational leadership development programs, we teach leaders some key principles. These are the essential interpersonal skills that help leaders meet employees’ personal and practical needs and reinforce the dignity and esteem of everyone they interact with.
By consistently using these skills, leaders cultivate more engaged and productive teams—and reduce the chance that employees will look for opportunities elsewhere.
2. Career Growth, Learning, and Development
Employees need training and career development to succeed in their roles. This is particularly true for employees in at-risk roles, such as becoming a first-time leader. A modern approach to retention-focused development will involve making development a way of work—supporting leaders in all of their moments of need.
Companies must also offer career mobility frameworks to achieve long-term retention. They must provide employees with chances to make nontraditional lateral moves into new, more fulfilling career paths. This can be tricky. There are many barriers to internal career mobility. HR should establish career frameworks that chart a path for career mobility, and all leaders can engage employees in discussions about their long-term career paths, including discussing aspirations that would lead them away from their current functional role.
3. Involvement in the Company’s Direction and Growth
Employees stay when their ideas are seriously considered and they can provide input on matters involving them. It is immensely frustrating for a frontline employee to see opportunities for improvement, report them to leadership, and then receive no response.
Above all, leaders who listen and act on behalf of their teams will win the war for talent. Command and control leaders will find themselves in a painful cycle of losing smart employees who feel disempowered.
To properly involve employees, leaders should regularly solicit employees’ ideas. When an idea can be acted upon, do so and make a point to acknowledge the employee who suggested it. Even when an idea can’t be implemented, it’s still important to make sure the employee feels heard. If appropriate, share the rationale for why a specific idea isn’t viable, and don’t forget to encourage the employee to keep bringing up ideas.
More than just involving employees, leaders need to paint a compelling picture of their company and its vision. Especially in virtual or hybrid teams, it’s easy for employees to become disconnected from their organization’s vision and purpose. Employees stay when they feel like they are an important part of something they believe in.
For insights into the rest of the top 10 reasons why employees stay, read DDI’s blog.