No matter what business you are in, the 2024 job market has seen an increasing strain in the area of talent retention. In fact, for many employers, it has become a challenge to hire, train, and keep employees for an extended period of time. 

There are some obvious time-tested factors that keep employees satisfied in their positions, such as compensation and benefits. While these are essential to consider, they are not the only factors influencing an individual’s decision to stay with a company, especially as we see shifts with a new generation joining the job market. One area that we see underrepresented in the discussion of retention is leadership. While it’s easy to excuse top leadership that may not oversee the day-to-day of each employee, we find that upper management plays an important role in employee retention, shaping the workplace culture, setting the tone for engagement, and fostering an environment where employees feel valued and motivated. As business professionals, understanding the nuances of leadership responsibility in employee retention is a key factor in sustaining a loyal and productive workforce.

Leadership sets the foundation for the entire employee and customer experience. Effective leaders inspire trust, communicate clearly, and demonstrate empathy, creating a workplace where employees feel understood and appreciated. This connection between leadership and employee satisfaction is well-documented: employees who trust their leaders are more likely to be engaged, loyal, and committed to the organization’s goals.

One of the key responsibilities of leaders in employee retention is to cultivate a positive organizational culture. Culture is not just about having a friendly workplace; it encompasses the values, behaviors, and practices that define how work gets done. Leaders who prioritize a culture of respect and continuous improvement create an environment where employees feel a sense of belonging and purpose. 

Our CEO, Mike Hayes, uses words like “authentic”, “cooperative”, and “consistent” to describe GLC’s ideal work environment. He admits this isn’t based on some fantasy of a perfect office culture, but to reflect the personality of one of the business’s founders and President, John Hayes. That is how strong of an effect our upper leadership team has on the rest of the business; it affects the experience that even our most entry-level employees will have with their workplace. 

We believe that our upper management’s stance of placing a lot of trust in regional and site managers has given our employees the ability to do their jobs with minimal oversight. This allows them to make decisions faster and satisfy immediate customer needs without the stress of corporate red tape. In turn, this has built an internal trait of avoiding micromanagement, which can be a huge contributing factor to employee turnover. 

Strong, connective relationships between leaders and employees are needed for lasting retention. Leaders should invest some time in getting to know their team members and understanding their aspirations, strengths, and challenges. Regular one-on-one meetings, formal and informal check-ins, and praising work publicly can help leaders build rapport and trust with their employees.

It is also the business leaders who must provide employees with the necessary resources and support they need to perform their jobs effectively. This includes providing the right tools and technology, ensuring manageable workloads, and fostering a collaborative team environment. There are some stress factors of any job that cannot be managed by one person alone, but providing things like proper technology and training can go a long way toward showing people you respect their work ethic and time. 

Along those lines of showing that you respect the regular work that a person does is to present more formal rewards, along with regular words of encouragement. We have a great time that we are proud of, and many of our employees can be caught going above and beyond for our clients. In recognition, we provide annual Gotta Love Champions awards and quarterly President’s Awards for those deserving of the recognition. We started this tradition simply to acknowledge those working hard for our team, but it is also a powerful tool for employee retention.

Regularly acknowledging and celebrating employees’ contributions and successes offers a sense of value to those whose tasks can often get overlooked in the day-to-day. We don’t simply want to accept that a person will do their job. We want them to be alert and growing. We hire people because their unique contribution is valuable, and we want them to know that and feel it while on the job. 

Many of the operations managers we employ will also echo a consistent message that on principle, they do not ask their direct reports to do any job they are unwilling to do themselves. In fact, many of our leaders have been hired and promoted internally, and have done more task-driven jobs in offices already. Modeling the behaviors and values we want to see in employees is an important trait and one that our managers are tasked with spotting in those they consider for future promotion. 

Leading by example means demonstrating integrity, accountability, and a strong work ethic. When leaders exhibit these qualities, they set a standard for the entire organization. Leaders who likewise show vulnerability and admit their mistakes can build deeper connections with their teams. This authenticity can create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable innovating, knowing that their leaders have their backs.

Leadership responsibility in employee retention is deeply influential. Effective leaders cultivate a positive organizational culture, build strong relationships, recognize and reward contributions, and lead by example. By prioritizing these aspects, leaders can create a workplace where employees feel valued, engaged, and committed to the organization’s success.

Talent is one of the most valuable assets to any business, retaining employees is not just a human resources concern but a strategic imperative for business leaders. By embracing their role in employee retention, leaders can drive long-term success and sustainability for their organizations. Our team is proud to have a consistently great retention rate, but we haven’t built it on one factor, we’ve built it into all we do. 

Hire a Team You Can Trust