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Managers, Here’s Why Your Good Employees Stay (and Why They Don’t)

An attractive compensation package may bring in good employees, but it definitely doesn't guarantee that they'll stay. We'll take a look at what encourages high-quality employees to stay put at their jobs, and what causes them to pack up and move on to greener pastures in their careers.

An attractive compensation package may bring in good employees, but it definitely doesn’t guarantee that they’ll stay. We’ll take a look at what encourages high-quality employees to stay put at their jobs, and what causes them to pack up and move on to greener pastures in their careers.

How to Retain Talented Employees

(Photo Credit: Siobhan Rohlwink-Coutts/Flickr)

Who better to ask about what it takes to retain talent, than SVP of People Operations at one of the most sought after companies in the world, Google’s Laszlo Bock? In a recent panel interview at Bloomberg, Bock shared his insights on what keeps top employees around and where employers (and managers) are getting it all wrong. For the most part, many people would assume that money is a key element to retaining top talent, however, Bock disagrees.

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“People don’t stay for the money,” he says, and then points out that “more than a third of Google’s first 100 employees are still working at the company despite making boatloads of money in its IPO.”

I think “boatloads” is an understatement, here. So, then, what makes top talent stay put, and what can managers do to retain productive, innovative workers? Here’s Bock’s two cents:

1. High-Caliber Hires

According to Bock, it starts with attracting and hiring the right talent from the get-go, regardless of how low or high the job is ranked in the company. Bock says that at Google, “every candidate is screened by their potential boss, potential colleagues, a hiring committee, and finally Google CEO Larry Page,” as to ensure that no bad seeds get through the cracks – because one bad apple can spoil the bunch. If you’ve ever been plagued with one of these co-workers, then you know how detrimental they are to morale and performance.

Many hiring managers make the mistake of hiring someone based on their first impression, but anyone can fake the funk in an interview to land a job. It’s important for managers to focus their hiring criteria on how well that individual will fit into the company culture, how the future team members gauge that individual, and what unique skills this person will bring to the table.

2. Meaningful Work

No matter how much money workers get paid for a given job, if it’s not meaningful and fulfilling, then they’re probably not going to last long in that position.

“People want to do more than just make a buck, [they] want to do something that means something,” Business Insider quotes Bock saying.

In his TED Talk, professor of psychology and behavioral economics Dan Ariely discusses his study, which was aimed at finding out what makes employees feel good about their work. He found that meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, and pride are the driving forces of fulfilling and satisfying work, not compensation. When seeking out a meaningful dream career, professionals are encouraged to consider what occupations best suit their personalities, rather than trying to chase a dollar figure and being stuck in a dead-end job that they loath.

Now that you know what encourages good employees to stay at their current companies, let’s take a look at what drives them away.

1. Terrible Management

When people hate their managers, they’re unhappy at work, and a disengaged boss equals disengaged employees.

A recent study found that a mere 35 percent of managers were happy with their jobs, which means the other 65 percent hated (or really, really hated) their jobs and spread negativity to others, even the people they managed. Disengaged workers cost U.S. companies an estimated $319 billion to $398 billion annually.

2. Lack of Work-Life Balance

According to BambooHR‘s infographic, the number two reason employees leave their jobs is poor work-life balance, due to factors such as lack of flexibility or putting in too many hours. More mothers are returning to the workforce after having children, so that means there is a greater need for working parents to achieve work-life balance, if there is such a thing.

It’s easy for employees to become absorbed in their work to the detriment of their personal lives. Ultimately, it affects their productivity, which reflects poorly on you, the manager. If you want happy, effective workers, it’s in your best interests to cultivate a culture that respects work-life balance. It’s good for you, good for them, and good for the company’s bottom line.

Tell Us What You Think

What reasons encourage you to stay at a job, and what reasons make you want to throw in the towel? Share your thoughts in the comments below or with our community on Twitter.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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