03 May 2016

What Makes People Stay: How to Hold On to Your Best and Brightest Talent

Dr. Tracy Brower, PhD., MM, MCR Global Vice President of Workplace Vitality™ MARS DRINKS

Job mobility – moving from job to job and company to company – has become easier than ever and networks like LinkedIn provide the engine for plenty of job movement and career growth for employees, and a treasure trove of talent for employers.

We’ve learned some exciting things about talent – and what makes people stay with a company.

In our recent survey, the Workforce Voice, powered by LinkedIn, we asked about the factors that make up a vibrant, thriving workplace, one that features plenty of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity. What makes our study special, is that through our partnership with LinkedIn we asked 1,015 LinkedIn users across generations, genders, job functions, and industries about their perspectives on the topic.

We learned some surprising things about the respondents and what makes talent tick:

‘Detractors’ are the people who aren’t thrilled about their companies and who are likely to steer friends or colleagues away. Workplace Vitality™ - engagement, engagement, collaboration, well-being and productivity are important to this group, but that their companies aren’t performing well in those areas. And this drives detractors away from their current companies. 57% of detractors are active job candidates – actively seeking work elsewhere – compared with only 8% of workplace promoters (those who are positive about their companies and would recommend them to others). Implication: when people aren’t satisfied with levels of engagement, well-being, collaboration, and productivity, they will seek to leave, so it’s worth it to be intentional about improving these factors.

Generation also matters to job mobility and retention. In our study, 41% of those who have switched jobs in the last 2 years are Millennials, and only 11% are Boomers. Conversely, Boomers are more than twice as likely as Millennials to have not switched jobs in the last 2 years. Implication: When you’re seeking to retain talent, it may be a good idea to focus on Millennials, especially. Get to know them over coffee, learn about their interests, ensure they’re working on projects that energize them, and consider connecting them to other generations through mentorship relationships.

Hierarchy also matters to retention. In our study, we found that only 12% of executives were actively looking for other opportunities, while 40% of middle managers and individual contributors were looking. It seems that as employees increase their responsibility and leadership levels, their likelihood of staying with the company also increases. We also found that 53% of detractors were individual contributors. In addition to being more likely to stay with the company, it seems that higher levels of leadership are also correlated with a greater likelihood to be happy with the company. Implication: Ensure your company has opportunities for job growth and increases in leadership responsibility. When employees can see potential for career growth, and can experience progress in their careers, they’ll be less likely to leave. Host coffee chats where individual contributors can regularly rub elbows with leaders and learn more about the pathways for growing within the company.

In addition, we learned something about salaries. Switching jobs apparently pays. 41% of job switchers have an annual salary of $100,000, compared with 27% percent of non-switchers. Implication: Ensure that compensation is fair and market-priced so that employees aren’t motivated to walk out the door based on their salary.

And finally, our study showed that active job candidates have between 4-10 years of experience at their current companies. It’s apparently in that 4-10 year window when employees are most likely to move to other opportunities. Implication: In terms of retention, it’s important to pay attention to all employees all the time, but within the 4-10 year window, it may be especially wise to connect and ensure that employees feel valued, know how their work matters to the organization, and have a sense of their growth and potential with the company.

Ultimately, it’s about the bigger picture of Workplace Vitality and creating a place that is vibrant, thriving, and alive with potential at the intersection of engagement, collaboration, well-being, and productivity. Holding on to the best and brightest talent is important to any company’s success, especially when employees are more mobile than ever. This kind of data points the way toward the approaches that help ensure they stay around.

Tags: Workplace Vitality Workforce Voice