What do your employees really want? Turning Attrition into Attraction

Organisations face an ongoing and critical challenge of attracting and retaining talented team members. The old adage, “Employees don’t leave jobs; they leave managers,” holds true now more than ever. To ensure the longevity and success of their businesses, leaders must understand what drives employees to stay and what might push them away. 

By recognising the importance of relational factors and actively engaging with their workforce, leaders can transform attrition into attraction.

A recent study by McKinsey & Company revealed a significant disparity between what employees prioritise and what employers tend to focus on. The research found that employees were more inclined to prioritise relational factors, such as recognition, inclusion, and appreciation. Conversely, employers tended to emphasise transactional factors, like pay and promotion opportunities. 

By the way, I’m not suggesting that pay and promotions don’t have their part in helping employees stay put, just that it’s not the defining motivation for many. 

COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the expectations and desires of the workforce. Remote work and hybrid-work approaches have become the new norm, blurring the boundaries between personal and professional lives. As companies adapt to these changes, it is crucial for CEOs and leaders to pause and reflect on their next moves. A heavy-handed back-to-the-office policy or unilateral mandates, regardless of good intentions, are likely to backfire.

The key to making effective decisions in this transformative era lies in involving employees in the decision-making process. McKinsey & Company stresses the importance of listening to employees, encouraging leaders not to make decisions in isolation. By including employees and seeking their input, leaders can gain valuable insights and ideas, ensuring that the plans and solutions implemented align with the workforce’s needs and expectations.

Failure to listen 

Unfortunately, research indicates that leaders often fall short when it comes to listening to their employees. This failure to actively engage with their workforce can result in a significant disconnect, erode trust, and hinder retention efforts. Leaders must break this pattern by creating a culture of open communication, where employees feel heard and valued.


Recognising employees for their contributions and efforts is a crucial aspect of fostering a positive work environment. When employees receive recognition for their work, they feel valued and appreciated. Regularly acknowledging their achievements and providing constructive feedback can go a long way in boosting morale and motivation.


Inclusion is another vital factor in retaining talent. Creating an inclusive workplace where employees feel respected, supported, and empowered cultivates a sense of belonging. This can be achieved through diverse hiring practices, promoting a culture of equality, and providing opportunities for professional growth and development.

Feeling energised

Energising employees involves inspiring them to give their best and creating an environment that encourages innovation and creativity. By nurturing a culture that values new ideas and input, leaders can ignite passion and enthusiasm among their workforce.


Building trust is foundational for employee loyalty. Trust is fostered through transparency, open communication, and accountability. When employees trust their leaders, they are more likely to remain committed to the organisation.

The Compensation Path

While fair compensation is essential, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Employees also seek opportunities for growth and advancement. Providing clear career paths, mentoring programs, and professional development initiatives can demonstrate a commitment to their long-term success.

To transform attrition into attraction, leaders must recognize the shifting expectations of their employees. By prioritising relational factors such as recognition, inclusion, energising the workforce, and creating a culture of trust, leaders can create an environment where employees feel valued, heard, and appreciated. 

Ultimately, involving employees in decision-making processes will yield valuable insights and foster a sense of ownership and commitment. Organisations that prioritise their employees’ needs and actively engage with them will thrive in the new world of work.

Not sure what your employees want? Ask them. 


*Acknowledgment: McKinsey & Company and infographic from SHRM
*Source article: “Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours” 


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