In order to be considered successful, companies need high-performing employees who want to stick around. This has become one of the biggest challenges faced by leaders today. If you want to improve employee engagement and retention, you must get ahead of the curve and figure out why people are leaving.

Are you asking your employees what they're really looking for in a company? There are many reasons why employees are leaving their current roles — so it's time to crack the code on why.

According to the Global Leadership Forecast Study for 2023 conducted by DDI, a global leadership consulting firm, there are three major areas CEOs are starting to become more concerned with while running a company:

  1. Attracting and retaining top talent.
  2. Developing the next generation of leaders.
  3. Maintaining an engaged workforce.

Now is the big question - where do we go from here? Don't panic, we've got you covered.

So, how do you find and keep the talent your company needs? Start by offering the best possible employee experience — provide what people care most about in a job.

  • Competitive pay. When you provide competitive pay that is equal to or better than other employers in the market, it shows that you value your employees’ contributions and want to invest in them. Plus, employees with better pay are less likely to leave your company for more money somewhere else. In today's workforce, competitive pay means so much more than just a basic salary. Keep in mind that people who leave their jobs cite low pay as a top reason. Not paying well can also cost you BIG TIME in the long run. If a great employee of yours was to leave, it could cost you 2x's their salary to replace them. That doesn’t even include the months of training for a new employee and the extra work put on other team members in the meantime. So why not just invest in them now?
  • A good boss or manager. According to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted in the spring of 2023, having a good boss ranks second only to pay, with 14 percent of workers ranking it as the most important factor. No one wants to work for or with people who aren't kind, plain and simple. A hostile work environment just makes everything more stressful, and no one can be productive when they're always worried about their manager not supporting them. Coworkers are important, too. About 70 percent of the survey respondents said the “friendliness of coworkers” is extremely or very important to them as well. Building connections with coworkers helps employees feel more connected with the company overall.
  • Flexible work options. People want to have a degree of control when it comes to when and where they work. Let's face it, things happen in life none of us can control. Employees are looking for more flexibility to help balance work, personal, family needs and other responsibilities. Flexible work arrangements can help you recruit and retain employees while saving costs, improving productivity, promoting work-life balance and increasing employee engagement.
  • Employee benefits that support physical, mental and financial wellbeing. While competitive pay is a top priority for employees, people are looking for much more than just that. A Forbes Advisor survey found that employers believe workers leave their job to find one with better overall benefits. The survey showed that the top five benefits employees want are:
    1. Health care
    2. Life insurance
    3. Retirement plans
    4. Paid time off
    5. Mental Health Assistance
    Sometimes though, employees don’t even know about or understand all the benefits offered by their employer. This makes it more important than ever to effectively communicate those awesome benefits to them.
  • Opportunities to learn, grow and make a difference. People want to do meaningful work and to make a positive contribution — a key driver of employee engagement, according to Gallup research. They also want access to training and development opportunities so they can do their job better and advance their career. However, most employees don’t feel their employer is helping them learn or improve on their existing skills. A lot of employees are kept where they are because they're great at the specific job they do. But what if they could be even more effective in a higher role? When people look for new roles, they tend to view professional development and training opportunities as another important consideration.
  • A positive company culture. Employees say a positive and strong company culture — a place where they are accepted and appreciated — is a top priority for their future jobs. According to Great Places to Work data, the six elements of a great company culture are:
    1. Community
    2. Fairness
    3. Trustworthy management
    4. Innovation
    5. Trust
    6. Caring
    No one wants to work in a hostile environment, so why not make it as positive and enjoyable as possible? To help create a positive company culture, you should build the right team, develop incentives for success, establish goals and expectations, promote trust and foster a work-life balance.

Generational Differences

In the Washington Post-Ipsos poll, the older part of Gen Z and younger millennials (ages 27 to 34) are more likely to say they're looking for opportunities for promotion and advancement. Knowing they have a place and trajectory within the company for years to come is important to them, when compared with other workers.

In addition, Gen Z workers put less importance on specific benefits like health insurance, retirement benefits and paid time off. Part of this could be because many Gen Z workers are young enough to still qualify to be on their parent's insurance policies. I mean, why bother paying for your own health insurance if you don't have to? That's just money back in your pocket. Some people are even willing to leave a company or job for less pay if it means they're work life balance is better elsewhere.

Promote What Your Company Offers

If you already offer what people care about most in a job, make sure everyone knows. There's no point in hiding the things that make your employees happy. Create an inspiring and authentic employer brand that promotes the employee experience at your company. This should be supported by compelling key messages and an eye-catching design. Make sure your brand components and messaging are reflected in all your external and internal communication channels. There's nothing worse than spending time and money developing something when no one knows it exists. Be sure to include this branding in every aspect you can, such as:

  • For job candidates: social media, marketing campaigns and events, job postings, careers website content, interviews and job offers
  • For employees: onboarding, intranet sites, newsletters, text messages, emails, home mailings, leader and manager communication, company meetings and videos

If you can effectively communicate that you have what employees care most about in a job, you’ll be able to build and keep the high-performing team you need to thrive and succeed.