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Purpose, Pride, and Fun Among Top Factors for Employee Retention

The Society for Human Resource Management says that employers can expect to pay an average of $4,700 per new hire – but others say that cost is too conservative. The high cost of hiring means that retaining employees is more important than ever. Offering competitive salaries and benefits can help reduce turnover, though growth opportunities, meaningful work, inclusion, belonging, and work-life balance are vital to attracting and keeping employees, according to recent research from Great Place to Work 

The report finds that 53% of workers are open to quitting, indicating that HR leaders should dive into what makes employees stay in their jobs. Though perks, promotions, and pay are important for retention, Great Place to Work finds that having purpose, pride, and fun at work are among the top factors influencing retention.  

The research shows that when employees feel their work serves a meaningful purpose, they are 2.7 times more likely to stay with a company. When employees are surrounded by a team with a shared purpose, it makes their work more meaningful and fulfilling. If companies are unable to connect the work their employees are producing to a greater purpose beyond a company’s profits, it’s unlikely that their employees will remain engaged.  

When employees feel proud of their work, they are 2.2 times more likely to stay with an employer, according to the research. Workplace pride is made up of three components: pride in individual work, pride in team accomplishments, and pride in one’s association with the company. 

An environment where fun is embedded in a company’s values fosters a sense of community, transforming the workplace into a safe space where employees feel included. A Great Place to Work uses Nugget Markets, Inc. as an example. The company offers robust benefits, but the company’s culture and focus on fun allows employees to sing at check stands, participate in store contests, and enjoy their workday – which benefits the employees and customers alike.  

As Gen Z continues to enter the workforce, HR leaders should know that they value meaningful work, positive workplace culture, and feeling included regardless of their position at the company. According to a 2023 Deloitte report, there’s a misalignment between Gen Z workers and their bosses in workplace priorities: while Gen Z places a high value on empathy, bosses rank it lower, leading to feelings of disengagement. Further, 61% of Gen Z workers and 86% of bosses consider work a significant part of their identity.  

Companies trying to retain employees should evaluate how leadership behaviors contribute to turnover. Great Place to Work identifies nine high-trust behaviors that create a positive workplace.  

  • Listening, asking questions, and setting aside assumptions or defenses when an employee is speaking. 
  • Speaking, sharing information clearly, frequently, and transparently. 
  • Thanking and recognizing good work. 
  • Developing employees and helping them grow as people, not just performers, by nurturing their talents and interests. 
  • Caring about employees and taking time to listen to their experiences. 
  • Distributing profits, compensation, bonuses, and incentive plans fairly.  
  • Recognizing and rewarding employees who demonstrate the organization’s values.  
  • Ensuring new team members feel anticipated and valued from day one with a supportive onboarding experience.  

When employees have a voice in choosing their work location, they are more likely to stay in their position. In fact, only 43% of employees who are restricted to employer-assigned locations show a willingness to stay long-term, whereas this figure rises to 60% among those who can choose where they work. While not every industry or role can offer this level of flexibility, the key is to understand the relationship between the choice of work location and long-term commitment and seek alternative ways to address employee needs. 

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