why good employees STAY (hint: it has nothing to do with cash)

By in Appreciation, Culture, and Leadership
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A quick Google search for “top reasons employees quit” results in about 8 million entries. Every major business magazine, recruiting firm, HR industry publication, has a list of the top 5 or 10 reasons why employees quit. We all know what’s usually on these lists—limited opportunity for development, poor managers, lack of appreciation, distrust in leadership, work/life balance… etc.

But let’s flip the conversation. Let’s talk about the top 3 reasons why people (especially your good ones) STAY:

1)     Great relationships with managers

Employees don’t leave their companies—they leave their managers. But the opposite is also true. Despite less than ideal work environments, many employees hang on because they love their managers. They put in more effort because they are connected and inspired by their leader. We all know someone (and maybe you’ve even done it yourself) who has left a great company because their leader, whom they love, has moved on and asked them to join. That leader created a relationship with their employee that transcends the imperfections of a company.

Research from Towers Watson found that when employees feel appreciated by their leaders, it increases their engagement levels in both low and high trust environments. In fact, when employees are appreciated in companies with a low environment of trust, their engagement levels are HIGHER than employees in high trust companies who are not appreciated for their efforts.

2)     Their work makes a difference

In recent focus groups, we asked employees what causes them to do great work in their organizations. The answer? Because it makes a difference. For a coworker. For a customer. For a patient. For the company.

Why do employees work at non-profit organizations? It’s clearly not for the money. Why do people volunteer in their community? It’s not for the refreshments. It’s because they know their work is making a difference.

The best way to show employees they are making a difference and connect them to the company’s mission, vision, and values is to recognize them for their great work. Make sure that recognition is aligned to what’s important in your organization. Whether it’s thanking an employee for going the extra mile for a customer, showing appreciation when they help out a peer, or formally recognizing them for doing something above and beyond for the company, every recognition moment is an opportunity to connect your employees back to something greater.

3)     Feeling valued

Everyone is striving for work life balance. But with companies doing “more with less”, few are able to find it. After working a 60-hour work week, with looming deadlines, difficult clients, and emails piling up, what gets your employees to come back the next week? Showing them they are valued.

Global research shows something as simple as a “thank you” can recharge employees after a hectic week (or month). Expressing your gratitude for an employee increases their sense of personal standing in their role and in the company, it motivates them to keep going, it cheers them along the way. In fact, appreciation is more impactful than a 5% salary bonus in helping employees feel valued. When employees feel appreciated and know their work is valued, they keep going despite the demanding work and time required. However, when employees don’t feel appreciated and valued, they start looking for a way out when the going gets tough.

Rather than focusing on all the bad reasons employees leave, let’s start focusing on the positive things we can do to get them to stay.

By christina chau
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