Photo: Phil Skinner/AJC
Photo: Phil Skinner/AJC

2016 Survey Message: Employees Need a Reason to Stay

Survey: Give employees a reason to stay, or risk losing them

A stronger economy is good news for workers, offering more options. But business leaders are likely to face some daunting HR challenges in 2016 if they haven’t already. Those who aren’t doing everything they can to keep great employees risk watching them walk out the door.

Our research shows 37 percent of employees—more than one in three—considered pursuing a better job elsewhere in 2015. That figure is an increase over the previous year (35.7 percent). And keep in mind, we’re studying organizations that either qualify as Top Workplaces or aspire to get there. These are companies that reap the benefits of employee engagement levels more than double the norm in the United States.

What makes employees want to stay? When organizations focus on what really matters – connection, alignment and execution. We see it in the WorkplaceDynamics survey comments, like this one from an employee at direct marketing company BKV: “The leaders here make good business decisions and care about our well-being.”

Healthy organizations thrive when people feel connected. Whose responsibility is this? Senior leaders. It is their role to ensure employees understand where the company is going and how it is getting there.

Biggest challenge: Labor

That should be a big concern for employers, because hiring and retention is not getting easier. Companies are citing a skilled labor shortage as their most serious long-term challenge. When the Employer Associations of America asked executives to express their greatest challenges for business growth in their industry, hiring tops the list. That’s especially a challenge with unemployment as low as 2% in some markets.

While pay and perks can offer some happiness, they are part of what we consider “Me” factors in workplace engagement. And that’s not what earns organizations a place on the AJC’s 2016 Top Workplaces list. What matters more are the “We” factors. With that connection, employees are willing to invest more of themselves. Without it, they are more likely to underperform or leave.

The AJC’s 2016 Top Workplaces show this sense of connection. It’s easy for their employees to explain why “I love my job.” For example, someone at staffing firm Principle Solutions Group: “I would never want to work anywhere else. Great leadership, great team, great values, great commission structure, great clients.”

Organizational health pays off

Organizations that ranked as Top Workplaces by WorkplaceDynamics reported, on average, a 67 percent employee engagement rate, according to our surveys in 2015. That compares with 32 percent employee engagement for all U.S. workers, according to the most recent Gallup poll.

Engaged employees are motivated to do great work, loyal to the organization and recommend the organization to others. Lack of engagement hurts productivity, hiring, retention and, ultimately, it hurts profits.

Those who “got it” years ago are well-prepared, while organizations without a solid retention plan are probably in trouble. Workplace culture and employee engagement are more important than ever before. When you combine the “Me” and the “We,” you’ve got the recipe for the organizational health to serve up long-term, sustainable performance.

Atlanta's Top Workplaces 2016

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