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Staggering Statistics on Employee Retention

employee surveyRecently, sixty-five percent of organizations reported that retaining key talent has become a major concern.  Maybe even more troubling is that only 51% of the companies surveyed were confident their organization could retain key talent even if the job market continued to improve.

These results are from a study by WorldatWork ( in which the company surveyed 526 mid- to senior-level rewards professionals.

Why Do Employees Quit?

Rewards professionals were asked to rate the reasons employees quit on a 1 to 5 scale (with 1 representing “strongly disagree” and 5 representing “strongly agree”).

The top 10 reasons employees leave:

  1. To get more pay elsewhere (average score was 3.13)
  2. Lacked promotional opportunities (2.87)
  3. Feelings pay was unfair when compared to others outside the organization (2.74)
  4. Feelings pay was unfair compared to their work contributions (2.65)
  5. Dissatisfaction with work responsibilities (2.65)
  6. Workloads that were too heavy (2.62)
  7. Dissatisfaction with work/life balance (2.61)
  8. Conflicts/problems with supervisor (2.56)
  9. Lack of training and developmental opportunities (2.49), and
  10. Inadequate use of their abilities (2.49).

What’s Working to Retain Good Employees?

Rewards professionals were also asked to rate the most effective methods used to retain employees on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 representing “ineffective” and 5 representing “very effective”).

The top 10 tactics and programs that work to retain employees:

  1. Pay employees above the labor market (2.94)
  2. Provide more incentive/bonus opportunities (2.91)
  3. Let key employees know they’re essential to the business (2.90)
  4. Create flextime/telecommuting opportunities (2.86)
  5. Create a succession plan to replace key individuals (2.84)
  6. Discuss with key employees their future opportunities within the organization (2.82)
  7. Provide cash bonuses for retaining key employees (2.81)
  8. Provide meaningful and enriching job designs for key employees (2.77)
  9. Provide key employees with stock options/equity awards (2.77), and
  10. Create an extensive benefit package (2.75).

What are some of the least effective employee retention methods?

  • Providing tuition reimbursement and other educational opportunities (2.56)
  • Monitoring employee satisfaction with pay and work duties (2.60), and
  • Providing mentors for key employees (2.66).

The study found that there is considerable variation in how organizations define key talent and how far down into the organization they actively manage this group. However, organizations that identify, define and manage key talent deeper into the organization are more confident that they will be able to retain these individuals. Additionally, key employees quit for a variety of reasons, but they are more likely to leave for rewards-related reasons than other work-related issues.