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Understanding Employee Retention: What Makes A Great Employee Stay?

In our previous article, we dug into the factors that repel talented employees from a business. If you haven’t read it, you can here. Otherwise, you’re probably asking what you can do to combat your retention dilemma. Fortunately, some thorough research over the past decade has helped us better understand what convinces talent to stay. 

Engagement, Engagement, Engagement 

As we mentioned last time, under-engagement negatively impacts all employees. A survey by Lexington Law found that nearly 60% of Americans would take half the pay at a job they love instead of remaining in a job they’re unhappy with. This means even your most efficient, best-compensated employees may walk right out the door if they feel unfulfilled by their work. 

Most businesses, small and large, fail to engage their employees. A 2018 Gallup survey found only 15% of people worldwide report feeling engaged at work, and only 12% of businesses report satisfaction with current employee engagement.

There’s an exception though, and a big one. The non-profit industry. 

Of American nonprofit employees, a staggering 93% report satisfactory workplace engagement -- triple the national average. A total 85% of employees who switched from for-profit organizations to non-profits said they planned to remain in nonprofits for the rest of their careers. 

This can teach us a valuable lesson about employee fulfillment. Your team is most engaged when they feel they’re contributing to your mission, and that your mission is a noble cause

Co-owner of The Mitten Brewing Company Christopher Andrus says for-profit businesses can also harness this energy by -- in some ways -- acting like a non-profit. On a monthly basis, The Mitten Brewing Company donates a portion of its funds to its own organization: “The Mitten Foundation.” Employees then provide their own causes to support -- for instance, paying the lunch debt at a local school so children are allowed to return to class.

The result: a retention rate nearly three times the national average.  

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Remote Employee Engagement

Fair Compensation 

In our last article, we also touched on the relationship between low wages and bitter employees. All signs show that it’s in the best interest of your retention rates, and ultimately your corporation to make sure your team is paid a living wage. 

Want to alleviate the under-engagement plaguing your high-talent recruits? An Alight study found that employees who felt their basic needs were met (rent, healthcare) by their full-time job were 700% more likely to be engaged at work. This is pretty self-explanatory: they no longer are preoccupied with fears about rent, dinner, or gas for the drive to work in the morning. 

On the flip-side, when your staff is short on cash, it often instigates high stress and chronic health disorders. Gallup estimates this to be a leading cause of productivity loss and absenteeism, causing annual losses ranging somewhere between $450 and $550 billion. 

The ability to have financial independence means additionally your employees don’t have to fear taking a sick day, or a vacation. They’ll be less burnt out and able to find a greater balance between their work and personal lives. Gallup also reports that workers who achieve that work-life balance are 200% more happy, productive, and loyal to their employers.

Career Training & Development 

Higher education is one of the great commodities of the modern world, and in the U.S. alone it’s estimated to be a $475 billion dollar industry. Meanwhile, more Americans than ever (at 57% and rising) believe that higher education is not a critical path to a career. As a result, many rely on their employers for career training and development. 

Not everyone finds value in training and mentorship programs. They take extra time out of the workday, they cost money to prepare, and ultimately they may leave you wondering if they were worth it. You probably don’t have one -- less than half of for-profit organizations do. 

But in a group of workers who chose to remain in their jobs because of positive experiences, 83% reported that their decision was influenced by a mentoring program. 86% of young people reported career training would convince them to stay at their current job, and 42% said it was the most important factor when they chose a company.  

Your employees view your interaction as an exchange, and not just a monetary one -- they’re investing their lives into your business and in trade they want you to invest in them. 

Flexible Workplace Requirements and Hours 

Flexibility is a growing trend in the workplace, especially telecommuting and more flexible scheduling options (or options to create one’s own schedule). Around 80% of young people surveyed said they would be more loyal to an employer with flexible work options, and 33% said it was critical to their employment.

Almost all respondents felt they don’t produce their best work in an office setting (while admittedly some of this varies from employee to employee across various fields). 

Most importantly, as telecommuting and more flexible hours become increasingly common, 42% of adults said that, if their company wasn’t planning to introduce a telecommuting option and they received a job offer from a corporation that did, they would jump ship. Most also do not feel they should have to exchange salary or vacation time in trade. 

The biggest takeaway here is that telecommuting is increasingly normal, and offering it makes you competitive in the eyes of an employee. 

Need help fostering a remote work culture at your company. Check out our guide on remote workers

Do you need help finding and retaining world-class talent? Reach out to us with all your needs, day or night.

Read Next: How to Retain Your Best Workers

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