How Does Meaningful Work Tie to Talent Retention?

Meaningful Work

More employees than you may think are ready to jump ship. Here's why meaningful work will keep them around.

Here's a stat for you: According to the ADP Research Institute's e-book "Keeping Pace With the Evolution of Work: Creating a New Employee Experience," two-thirds of today's employees are actively seeking or are open to new job offers. What's worse, people will jump for an increase of as little as 12.5 percent. In fact, ADP's research found that 47 percent would move for no increase or even for a job that paid less.

Why are people making moves? Because they don't have meaningful work, according to Gallup's "The World's Broken Workplace" report.

ADP's research showed that there's "a significant disconnect between employees' and employers' priorities" when it comes to meaningful work. "While employers are more concerned with long-term business outlook, employees are focused on their career objectives."

That's a problem — and here's how to fix it.

Change Your Focus, Keep Your Staff

According to ADP, today's leaders need to focus on "the things that matter most to employees and [help] them grow by doing their best work, every day." This will instill meaning in their work and keep them from becoming the so-called passive job seekers those who are employed but will move on to the next best offer your competition is actively going after.

To learn what will make employees stay, learn what motivates them to engage. A decade ago, a stable job with great pay and benefits that enabled employees to have a family and a home was all it took. Today's talent market wants all that and more. They want meaning.

If You Grow Them, They Will Stay

While employees don't necessarily come in already planning their exit strategy, ADP found that 49 percent do believe they must leave their jobs to advance. "Training and development [are] linked to higher levels of performance, profitability, customer satisfaction and even safety," so why not make training and development a priority? As of now, fewer than "half [of employees] report taking part in training during the past year."

Employees say they know how to be successful all they're looking for is support. More than half believe they don't have a fair opportunity to advance. They just want to know they have a future.

Constructing a future for your employees means doing three main things:

  1. Invest in training and development. Investing in employees is the first step toward proving that you want to keep them around. According to a Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials rank development as a top priority. Similarly, ADP research showed that 73 percent of employees say their personal development goals are to grow at their current company.
  2. Nurture with feedback. Managers must be proactive in providing frequent not just annual feedback because even though this is what employees want, they rarely ask for it, finds Gallup. The practice of coaching will help build relationships between employees and managers as employees learn how they're doing and how they're likely to improve.
  3. Look beyond the bottom line. Employees want to know that what they do makes a difference and not just to profits. Eighty-nine percent of people say they would choose to work on projects that are personally meaningful and impact society. And employees want to work in cultures that foster meaningful connections between individuals another reason to coach, train and develop.

While you can't choose what's meaningful to your employees, you can adapt your talent strategies to be employee-centric. Do that, and you'll not only develop your employees, you'll set the stage for mobility and longevity, which will be to everyone's benefit.

For a more in-depth look at ADP's research, download the e-book "Keeping Pace with the Evolution of Work: Creating a New Employee Experience."