Top five reasons why employees join and stay with organizations

A new Towers Watson research paper is shedding some light on what attracts employees to an organization (and what keeps them there after they’ve joined.)  The 2012 Global Workforce Study includes responses from 32,000 employees in 29 markets around the world.

Here’s what people said attracts them to an organization and what would cause them to leave.

Rank Attraction Retention
1 Base pay / Salary Base pay / Salary
2 Job security Career advancement opportunities
3 Career advancement opportunities Relationship with supervisor / manager
4 Convenient work location Trust / confidence in senior leadership
5 Learning and development opportunities Manage / limit work-related stress
Adapted from Top Five  Global Drivers of Attraction, Retention and Sustainable Engagement           Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study At A Glance


The study also looks at the factors that create an engaging work environment.  It’s interesting to note that Towers Watson has expanded their definition of employee engagement—which they are calling “sustainable engagement”—to include enablement (having the tools, resources and support to do their job effectively), as well as energy (which means a work environment that actively supports employees’ well-being.)

Overall, the study showed that:

  • Only 35% of workers rate high in all three areas and are engaged, energized and enabled.
  • 22% are classified as unsupported, meaning they display traditional engagement, but lack the enablement and/or energy required for sustainable engagement.
  • 17% are detached, meaning they feel enabled and/or energized, but are not willing to go the extra mile.
  • 26% are completely disengaged, with less favorable scores for all three aspects of sustainable engagement.

Wondering where to get started in addressing some of these factors in your organization? 

Abhishek Mittal, a senior consultant with Towers Watson in Singapore shares some possibilities for specifically addressing the enablement aspect of sustainable engagement in a separate, but related article, Building a Sustainable Engagement Strategy.

In the article, published late last year, he describes a Towers Watson study with a large Asian bank that identified:

“The analysis of over 300 branches found that the direct manager has a large impact on ‘enabling’ employees. When we look at branches where employees are more satisfied with their managers on a range of parameters, the employees tend to feel much more well-supported or enabled to deliver in their roles. Their perceptions about work resources, tools, condition and work organisation are much stronger than other branches. In turn, branches with more “enabled” employees clearly have a higher percentage of engaged customers. And, we saw clear links between engaged customers and higher target achievement on branch-level operating profits.”

To read more about the two studies, check out Building a Sustainable Engagement Strategy or 2012 Global Workforce Study: A Quick Glance

10 thoughts on “Top five reasons why employees join and stay with organizations

  1. Pingback: Top five reasons why employees join and stay with organizations « Tech News

  2. It’s interesting that over the years when I’ve reviewed these types of surveys that Base Pay/Salary are mostly in the four, five or six spots. I’d be interested in knowing why all of a sudden it’s number one!

    • Hi Tom,

      I think two things are probably contributing to the high ranking for Base pay / Salary in this survey.

      One, is the general economic times we are in. After 3+ years of a generally soft job market, people are appreciating a solid, stable job with good pay.

      The second is the context of the question. Most of us are used to seeing a ranking of what employees want from their job–that’s where we see things like challenging work, ability to use my skills, collaborative team, etc. Because this survey is asking people what they look for in a new job and what would cause them to leave–I think that is prompting the different responses we are seeing here.

      What does everyone else think?


    • As an employee of 12 years with the company i am about to leave , I have found that depending on the base pay grade that you are on any percentage pay increase is almost nonexistant . A 3 to 5 percent increase to $ 10 .00 an hour , woo hoo , a 3 to 5 percent increase to $ 40 .00 an hour now your talking .
      Unfortunately it is the first example who really needs the wage rise as his pay increases are normally the same or slightly lower than the cost of living .
      The second example could be a team leader or supervisor and could be in charge of 30 to 100 people . Normally this person has to move up , or die , so that ONE of the people from the first group MAY have a chance to move up the ladder , only MAY , becouse the company MAY hire from outside .
      This leads directly to the second item on the list career advancement .

  3. I’m not surprised at all that salary is ranked #1 and I believe that will never change. It can be challenging to find something that you’re really passionate about doing as a job while getting paid very well to do it. Most people that focus on the money first rarely are happy in their jobs because they got involved for the wrong reasons. We all need money because being happy in a fulfilling job isn’t always about the money. Thanks for sharing!

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