Why Employees Stay


If your business is successful at attracting top talent, you want to make sure that those people stay with you long term as well. The costs of hiring and training staff are far higher than the pay increases or bonuses. And when you have a team that have an established working relationship, autonomy, and creative development of SOPs and other procedures in your workplace, you have the potential to focus on your profit margins and business goals, rather than team development.

It does take time to find the right people, train them and allow them to settle into their jobs and produce high-quality work consistently. However, once you have established those parameters, what makes people stay? There are two main answers; job satisfaction and company environment.


Job Satisfaction


Firstly, it is important to understand that a low turn-over rate does not equal a productive and happy team. Some people stay in a job due to lack of other opportunity or for outside factors, such as work location in relation to home or schools. Often if outside factors change, it can motivate people to leave their job.

In a US study of workplace satisfaction and staff retention, respondents were asked to allocate 12 points to multiple-choice statements about their personal beliefs regarding work itself, the kind of boss they like, benefit programs, pay, corporate profits, company loyalty, and other criteria. For example:

  • The kind of boss I would like is one who:
  • tells me exactly what to do and how to do it, and encourages me by doing it with me.
  • is tough, but allows me to be tough too.
  • calls the shots and isn’t always changing his mind, and sees to it that everyone follows the rules.

The study found that employees tend to remain with a company until some force causes them to leave. This is influenced by two main factors:

  • job satisfaction
  • company environment

An employee’s decision to stay or leave is influenced by the degree of compatibility between their work ethic and company values. If an employee feels a broad gap between their values and that of the company, they are likely to leave.

Outside the company, an employee’s perceived job opportunities in other institutions influence their decision to stay. An employee’s perceptions of outside job opportunities are influenced by real changes in the job market and by self-imposed restrictions and personal criteria.

Some people refuse to consider work in other locations because they like the location of their workplace. However, if the area or its surrounds that a person can reasonably live in to commute to work becomes run down or polluted, the motivation to stay is weakened, and, consequently, outside job opportunities become relatively more attractive.

Other factors that directly affect a person’s decision to stay with a company include:

  • financial responsibilities
  • family ties
  • friendships
  • community relations

Often these are the same people who have low job satisfaction, but they won’t leave because they:

  • were born and reared in their present locale
  • have children in local schools
  • could not afford to quit
  • have good friends at work

This means that employees are staying because they have to, not because they want to. Low job satisfaction leads to low productivity and poor quality work. This type of staff retention is not good for the company ROI, or the morale of the company.

Satisfaction & Environment

People site achievement, recognition, responsibility and growth as factors that contribute to workplace satisfaction.

Environmental pressures inside the company such as work rules, facilities, coffee breaks, benefits, wages, as well as environmental pressures outside the company such as outside job opportunities, community relations, financial obligations, and family ties also influence a person’s decision to stay in their job.

To understand why your company has a high turnover it is better to focus on the people who stay than those who leave. Rather than trying to understand why a person left, it is better to know why your employees stay. If their decision is based on negative factors, such as lack of other opportunity and need for income or a poor job market, then you will have a demotivated staff who are costing your business money.

If your team is staying because they are motivated by job satisfaction, good opportunities and other positive factors, you are more likely to have a motivated team that contributes to your business.

Consider that you have a small team of people who work from a central office. The team are settled in the community, can easily commute, work well together and are overall satisfied with management styles. The team have the flexibility to work the hours that suit their needs and are given autonomy over their work. These people are likely highly skilled workers who need a little direction. They are also likely highly satisfied with their work and likely not looking for another job, and if they are it is likely based in-person choices such as a desire to work in a different field, not poor workplace satisfaction.

However, if you have a team of people who are not given responsibility, feel isolated, work to rigid schedules and have little autonomy, the team are probably not contributing to your productivity.

Job satisfaction is about more than tasks. It is about the environment. The one that you as company manufacture, and the physical one that you have little control over. Different employee levels cite different reasons for staying with a company:

  • Low-skill employees feel bound principally by benefits, family responsibilities, the difficulty of finding another job, personal friendships with coworkers, loyalty to the company, and financial pressures.
  • Moderate-skill employees feel about the same, but are somewhat less sensitive to environmental factors. Loyalty to the company more motivational.
  • Managers stay mainly for reasons related to their jobs and community ties. The difficulty of finding another job, family responsibilities, and company loyalty have less influence on them.

An Employee’s Work Ethic

All people exhibit different levels of psychological development, and these levels are expressed in the values they hold respecting their work.

Values for Working

The following categorisations of psychological levels of development and work values are based on Scott and Susan Myers’ adaptation of Clare Graves’ theory.

Level 1—Reactive

This level is restricted primarily to infants, people with serious brain deterioration, and certain psychopathic conditions. For practical purposes, employees are not ordinarily found at Level 1.

Level 2—Tribalistic

Such people are best suited to jobs that offer easy work, friendly people, fair play, and, above all, a good boss. An employee at this level might not believe that they have the best job, but such people perform well at their tasks. Such people like a boss who tells their employees exactly what to do and how to do it, and who encourages staff by doing it with them.

Level 3—Egocentric

The two major requirements of a job for this employee are good pay and no responsibility. Such employees do not care for any kind of work that ties them down, but they will do it for the right money. Such employees need a tough boss who allows employees to be tough too.

Level 4—Conformist

A secure job, where the rules are followed and no favouritism is shown appeals to this employee type. Such people feel that they have worked hard for what they have and feel they deserve good breaks. Such people believe that it is their duty to work. They like a boss who calls the shots, isn’t always changing their mind, and sees to it that everyone follows the rules.

Level 5—Manipulative

The ideal job for this employee is full of variety, allows some freewheeling and dealing, and offers pay and bonuses based on results. Such people feel that they are responsible for their success and are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. A good boss for this employee understands the politics of getting the job done, knows how to bargain, and is firm but fair.

Level 6—Sociocentric

A job which allows for the development of friendly relationships with supervisors and others in the workgroup appeals to this employee. Working with people towards a common goal is more important than getting caught up in personal pursuits. Such people like a boss who gets people working in harmony by being a friend more than a boss.

Level 7—Existential

This employee likes a job where the goals and problems are more important than the money, prestige, or how it should be done. Such people prefer to work on their own doing work that offers continuous challenges and requires imagination and initiative. A good boss is one who gives employees access to information and allows people autonomy.


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