Recent research from McKinsey gives us new insight into how to retain top talent. The article lays out two top reasons why people stay in their jobs. First, they feel valued by their organizations and their managers

Of course, one way to show that an employee is valuable is to give him/her a raise. But sometimes a raise just feels transactional, or worse, manipulative. Is my boss just trying to buy my loyalty? If I can get a raise now, why didn’t they give me one earlier?

People want to feel that their work has impact, that it’s important, that it matters. That goes far beyond a paycheck. 

To retain employees, acknowledge their intangible value

As a leader, how can you communicate that you truly recognize your best people? Here are some of the ways I’ve shown the people I work with how much their efforts matter:

  • Solicit, and listen to, their opinions about how to make things better. That includes following up to let them know when a change has been made.
  • Provide regular, meaningful feedback, on both what they’re doing well and what needs improvement.
  • Support them with the tools and resources to get the job done.

Then, build on employee recognition with a sense of belonging

The second reason people stay, per McKinsey, is that they feel a sense of belonging. This has been especially important and challenging during the pandemic. What makes me feel I’m part of a community when I’m sitting at home staring at a computer screen all day? Here are some of my metrics:

  • People reach out just to touch base.
  • We share a laugh.
  • Colleagues and bosses know something about my life beyond work and ask me how it’s going. 
  • People have my back when things are tough, giving me the benefit of the doubt and even picking up my slack. 

So, sure, pay your people what they deserve. But more importantly, demonstrate that they matter, both the work they do and the people they are. 

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