What New Research Reveals About Retaining Employees

As the Great Resignation continues, organizations are struggling with how to keep staff. The bad news is, turnover happens in times of change. But a handful of new reports also reveal some positives: Associations can take steps that will go a long way to mitigate turnover.

Supply and demand. It’s a concept most of us learned in grade school, and we are seeing play out now as the demand for staff far outweighs the supply.

This imbalance has employees jumping ship and employers trying to figure out ways to keep their best and brightest talent, so they don’t have to compete on the open market.

Three recently released reports offer a glimpse at what it is that workers want, so organizations can help retain them. Turns out, it’s not just one thing that helps keep employees satisfied. Rather, it’s a combination of factors, including purpose, passion, pay, and flexibility.

What Workers Want

One of those reports, “What Workers Want 2022: The State of Work and Career Success,” looks at some of the top concerns of those in the workforce. While pay remains the highest priority (39 percent), having meaningful work (28 percent) and work employees feel passionate about (25 percent) were also important.

Strengthening Workplace Culture: A Tool for Retaining and Empowering Employees Globally,” a report from the Society for Human Resource Management, had similar findings. It notes that the pandemic helped many workers clarify what they really want in their professional lives.

“Nearly 1 in 3 workers (30 percent) who are actively searching for a new job say they don’t have a meaningful career, compared with 10 percent of workers who are not actively searching,” the SHRM report said. “For many workers, simply bringing home a paycheck isn’t enough—they want to find purpose in their professional lives. When people don’t feel like they have a meaningful career, they become less satisfied with their job, and turnover becomes inevitable.”

This suggest associations and other nonprofits, whose work tends to be mission-driven, are in a good position to attract and retain talent. That’s why these groups should prioritize focusing on core mission and the meaning that work has in their respective industries and in the world.

Bad Culture Breeds Discontent

While mission is an advantage for associations, staff won’t stay—even if they believe in the mission—if their work life is miserable.

“What Workers Want” noted that 62 percent of workers want the flexibility to work anywhere, while 61 percent want to work on their own schedule. On a similar note, 59 percent of respondents said it was important to spend enough time with family.

These all point to a greater need for flexibility among workers to feel satisfied about their work-life balance.

However, it’s not just remote work that matters. A workplace culture that allows bad behavior to persist is also a real turnoff, according to SHRM. People who were actively looking for a job attributed it to several reasons. Among them: coworkers had poor behavior (62 percent), their job made them irritable at home (61 percent), they lacked work-life balance (60 percent), their supervisor doesn’t know how to lead (54 percent), or they dread going into work (53 percent).

For associations wanting to keep talent, creating a culture of respect and flexibility should be top priorities. Training managers to deal with staff fairly, creating a positive culture, and maximizing flexibility will have strong rewards. While remote work isn’t the end-all, be-all for all, a significant number of workers want it. A poll from Zapier found that 61 percent of workers would quit their current job if one came along that offered them the opportunity to work fully remote.

Benefits Matter

Finally, workplace benefits do matter. According to iSolved’s “Benefits’ Big Impact on Employee Experience (2022-2023)” report, 82 percent “consider benefits part of their total compensation when deciding to accept a job offer or stay with their existing employer.”

This suggests that benefits packages may be a deciding factor in whether to stay or go. An employee considering leaving may balk if the benefits package doesn’t match up to what they have. The benefits people most want are healthcare (78 percent), flexible work hours (45 percent), flexible work location (42 percent), and bonus eligibility (33 percent).

And while benefits matter to employees, the iSolved report noted that 53 percent of organizations had made no changes to their benefits package. Unique benefits that employees said would make them more likely to join an organization include a four-day work week, unlimited paid time off, paid mental health days, and travel benefits.

What is your association doing to retain its talent? Share in the comments.

(AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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