By Claudine Kapel
When the choice is whether to stay or go, what inspires employees to remain with their current employer?
That key question is at the heart of most total rewards or retention strategies. What pivotal work attributes encourage employees to stay?
Of course, pay and benefits are usually major considerations. But there’s more to a compelling employment proposition than monetary factors.
Keep in mind that while competitive compensation and benefits are vitally important, these are the two areas where organizations competing with you for talent can most easily match or replicate what you have to offer. So focusing on pay and benefits alone likely won’t be enough to enable your organization to effectively retain talent or distinguish itself as an employer. And while compensation and benefits are high priorities for most employees, they may not top the list of what people are seeking.
In fact, in a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), respondents indicated enjoying what they do and having a job that fits well with the other aspects of their lives (both at 67 per cent) topped the list of reasons why they stay with their current employer.
Benefits ranked third at 60 per cent, and compensation ranked fourth at 59 per cent.
The APA polled 1,240 U.S. employees age 18 and older as part of its Workforce Retention Survey.
The survey also examined what mattered most to respondents who indicated the strongest intention of staying with their current employers. Respondents who said they plan to stay with their current organizations more than two years identified the following as the key reasons for staying:
- Enjoying the work
- Having a job that fits well with other life demands, and
- Feeling connected to the organization.
Interestingly, feeling connected to the organization was key for those with the highest intention of staying, although it ranked fifth among respondents overall.
The survey findings also highlighted some demographic differences in reasons for staying. Respondents in the 55 or older age group were the most likely to cite enjoying the work (80 per cent), work-life fit (76 per cent), benefits (66 per cent), and feeling connected to the organization (63 per cent) as reasons for staying with their current employers.
In contrast, employees in the 18 to 34 age group were the least likely to say enjoying work (58 per cent), work-life fit (61 per cent) and benefits (54 per cent) kept them on the job. But this age group was the most likely to cite co-workers (57 per cent) and managers (46 per cent) as reasons to stay.
The APA research highlights the importance of taking a holistic view when it comes to total rewards or retention strategies. While a good compensation and benefits offering is needed to “be in the game” when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, more is needed to create a winning proposition.
The research also drives home the fact that effective talent retention requires attention not only to the transactional elements of the employment deal, but also to the interpersonal or relationship-oriented attributes. Such elements can be more challenging to address because they encompass a range of considerations that are both harder to quantify and harder to shift – from culture and leadership to communications and flexibility.
Organizations that successfully address these broader, non-transactional work elements will have an edge when it comes to encouraging talent to stay.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.