New research from Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated human capital management software solutions for human resources, payroll, benefits, and insurance services, explores the challenge of employee retention and the key drivers motivating employees when making choices about their career paths. With 4.3 million people quitting their jobs as recently as May 2022, the survey of more than 600 U.S. workers provides insight employers can use when developing strategies for increasing retention.
The study—which was conducted in partnership with Future Workplace, an Executive Networks member company—revealed a gap between the employer perceptions and employee sentiments related to retention. When asked about factors (other than compensation and benefits) that contribute to their decisions to stay in with their company, 30% of respondents indicated that perceived job stability is their most important motivator and 60% ranked it in their top three. Feeling that the work was meaningful (45%) and having a passion for their field (33%) were the second- and third-most-popular answers, respectively. Reasons related to employers' brands (19%), corporate culture (19%), and products (13%) are the least important to employees, despite many companies' focus on these elements in their recruiting and retention efforts.
Generation Influences Why Employees Work at Their Companies
"Research shows that almost half of employees say they do not want to change companies within the next 12 months, but that is never a guarantee that those employees will stick around long-term, The Great Resignation may be slowing, but that doesn't mean companies can take a passive approach. Rather, they should use this opportunity to offer programs, perks, and benefits that meet employees' diverse needs."
-Alison Stevens, director of HR Services at Paychex.
While job stability and performing meaningful work ranked among the top two reasons respondents stayed at their companies, Baby Boomers (32%), Gen X (35%), and Millennials (31%) were significantly more likely to cite job stability as the most important reason than Gen Z (14%). Instead, Gen Z (18%) prioritizes meaningful work over job stability.
In addition, Baby Boomers (41%) said that passion for their field and industry are among the most important reasons to work at their company. Gen X (30%) focused on close relationships with coworkers, and Millennials (39%) cited opportunities for career growth. Gen Z (27%) said company growth and success were especially important to them.
Flexibility Reigns as Top Priority for Employee Retention
When asked what would make employees more likely to stay in their roles, respondents noted a desire for more flexible scheduling. Over one-third (35%) of all respondents ranked flexibility in work hours and schedule as the number one reason they'd be more likely to stay at their organization long-term, and 70% ranked it among their top three. It was significantly more likely for Baby Boomers (46%) to say that flexibility would make them more likely to stay at their organizations long-term than Gen X (38%), Millennials (31%), and Gen Z (24%).
Opportunities for career advancement, skills development, and internal job mobility, and increased commitment to work/life balance ranked second and third overall with 50% of employees putting each in their top three most-desired perks. A promise of better work/life balance was particularly compelling to financial services workers (29%) compared to those in leisure/hospitality (10%), manufacturing (11%), education/health services (14%), retail/trade/transportation/utilities (13%), and other professions (11%).
Keeping Employees Long-Term
Health insurance (64%) and retirement plans (62%) are the top two benefits shown to keep employees long-term. However, the research shows that the importance of mental health benefits is on the rise among younger generations. Gen Z (23%) is significantly more likely to say that mental health benefits would make them more likely to stay at their organization long-term than Millennials (14%), Gen X (5%), or Baby Boomers (3%).
Financial wellness benefits (41%), such as tuition reimbursement, professional development stipends, student loan repayment, and child-care support, ranked third among benefits most important for employee retention.
About the Research:
"Perhaps the most compelling takeaway from this study is the confluence of factors that affect employees' decisions to say with a company, Each employee presents a different intersection of the demographics outlined in the study, and the only way to really know what will keep them in their position for the long haul is to ask. Even so, employers rarely do it. We found that only 29% of employees have had what we call a 'stay interview.' These open conversations with employees can give HR staff insights into the unique values of their employee populations to increase retention, even in a difficult labor market."
-Jeanne Meister, the founder of Future Workplace and executive vice president at Executive Networks.
The research findings are based on a survey conducted across the United States between May 4, 2022, and May 11, 2022. For this survey, 604 full and part-time employees at small to mid-size businesses (20-500 employees) were asked general questions to understand employees' thoughts around retention. The study targeted employees who are between the ages of 18 years to 75 years old. This is a survey in a series of research reports administered by Future Workplace that will focus on the employee point of view and pinpoint top concerns, priorities, and trends facing the modern workforce.
Paychex, Inc. (Nasdaq:PAYX) is a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions for human resources, payroll, benefits, and insurance services. By combining innovative software-as-a-service technology and mobility platform with dedicated, personal service, Paychex empowers business owners to focus on the growth and management of their business. Backed by 50 years of industry expertise, Paychex serves more than 730,000 payroll clients as of May 31, 2022 in the U.S. and Europe, and pays one out of every 12 American private sector employees.