One of HR’s ongoing challenges is finding a way to hold on to employees. Two separate studies point to the best — and worst — ways to retain staff.

Key to engagement and satisfaction

The first study, from Harvard Business Review (HBR), asks: What’s the one factor that most affects how engaged, satisfied and committed employees are?

The results confirm once again that the answer is workers’ immediate supervisor.

There’s a strong correlation between effective managers and engaged employees – in other words, the best leaders were managing the most committed, happiest and most engaged staff members.

Why are they leaving?

On the other hand, what makes workers leave?

If you think it’s always money, you’re not quite right.

In fact, 88% of workers leave for things other than money, according to a new Manpower survey.

“Limited career opportunities” takes the cake as the biggest reason employees abandon ship.

Here’s the full top 10:

  1. Limited career opportunities (16%)
  2. Lack of respect/support from supervisor (13%)
  3. Money (12%)
  4. Lack of interesting/challenging job duties (11%)
  5. Lack of leadership from supervisor (9%)
  6. Bad work hours (6%)
  7. Unavoidable reasons (5%)
  8. Bad employee relations by supervisor (4%)
  9. Favoritism by supervisor (4%)
  10. Lack of recognition for contributions (4%)

Managers make the difference

It’s clear from both studies that managers play a crucial role in the success or failure of employees.

Look no further than the Manpower study, where four of the top 10 reasons employees left were due to their supervisors.

Two takeaways:

  • Bad bosses can cancel out your other retention efforts. Many companies spend time and money on things like employee rewards, great work environments and health insurance to keep staffers engaged. But a lousy manager can negate any of these.
  • Good supervisors can lead to increased revenue. The HBR study cited another study conducted with Sears that found improved employee satisfaction can lead to customer satisfaction, which in turn can lead to increased profits. It’s just one more reason to take great care in who you choose to manage your staffers.


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