Dear employers, this why your employees are leaving your company at a worrying rate

Only 5% of employees are committed to staying with their current employer

Employees spend most of their lives in the workplace. Their jobs become their second home, hence it is extremely crucial that they are engaged and happy. While most companies believe that they have in place systems that keep their employees engaged, the narrative is quite the opposite when employees are given a forum to express their views on the mater.

A survey conducted by BrighterMonday revealed that Kenyan employers have a cause to worry as far as their employee engagement levels are concerned. The current general employee engagement index is at 27%. Probably too low despite the fact that so many companies in Kenya are worthy contenders of a ‘best companies to work for’ competition.

The BrighterMonday survey revealed that 41% of respondents speak positively about the companies they work for. This means that they believe in their employers’ vision and work to achieve the mission everyday. This might also explain why 35% of respondents in the survey are motivated to do their best for the organisations they work for. However, only a measly 5% are actually committed to staying with their current employer. So, why are 95% of respondents looking to jump ship? What exactly is the problem?

The answer lies in Andrew Carnegie’s quote above. These employees’ minds and hearts are not in the companies they work for. They might believe their employer is the best in the industry, they might think their products or services are awesome. Heck, the thought of tackling a day’s challenges makes them jump out of bed in the morning. The ugly truth, however, surfaces when an offer from “greener pastures” falls on their laps. Employers are left reeling from shock at how they didn’t see it coming.

When the respondents are asked about their intention to leave and when they see themselves leaving the current employer; 18% said they will leave in the next 2-5 years while a whopping 80% would be working for a new employer in a year’s time.

The elephant in the job market

Let’s tackle the pertinent questions flying around unanswered. Where are these employees going? What exactly are they looking for? Does the fact that they are moving from one employer to another every two years mean that companies are basically just exchanging staff? And what can companies do to retain good talent?

It is clear that what a company does or how well it performs in its industry doesn't keep an employee in place. It is clear that what employees are looking for is much more. What they are looking for is more primal. More intrinsic.

They want to matter. They want to belong. They want to be part of something big. This is a need so ingrained in human psychology that an employee will only rest when they find such a company. Age, experience and remuneration package won’t matter; they will keep moving around the job market looking for that company where they will feel at home.

Employees are human, and since most of the spheres in their lives revolve around relationships, so does the workplace. This might explain why most strategies working towards retaining employees revolve around relationships. This includes; building trust, encouraging employee engagement, fostering teamwork and spirit, improving communication, training, development and mentorship. You name it, if it has to do with retaining staff, it will be personal.

So, what will make an employee forfeit a higher-paying opportunity and stick to a current employer? Answer: His or her relationship with their direct boss. That boss who has gone out of their way to mentor and encourage them, the one who came through for them in a personal matter, the one who held their hand through a difficult time.

When an employee considers all these things and knows deep down that they might not find such a boss elsewhere, they are then willing to see their employer’s vision materialise. Their loyalty has been earned and it doesn’t matter who calls with an offer of better pay or benefits, their reply will always be “Thank you for the offer, but I am happy right where I am.”

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