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How to Create Job Satisfaction and Retain Your Best Talent

How to Create Job Satisfaction and Retain Your Best Talent

Finding the right person for the job, training them up to standard and then watching them walk out the door is the reality of any industry. However, there are strategies which can be used to help retain skilled talent and reduce the burden of high turnover and recruitment.  The truth is while the times have changed, so have people’s perceptions of what a ‘good job’ looks like. People are no longer bound by company loyalty and if they do not have job satisfaction (an overall positive experience at work) they are highly likely to look elsewhere.

If you are in a position of management then this is no small concern. Research shows that three quarters of people who leave their jobs state reasons for leaving are directly related to management. Research by Gallup estimates the cost of turnover to be anywhere between one half and 5 times that employee’s annual salary, and that is per employee!

It is thus vitally important that managers become aware of the needs of their employees and learn the staff retention strategies necessary to keep and build a skilled and committed workforce.

 The Relationship between Engagement, Job Satisfaction and Turnover

It is widely understood that employee engagement is a fundamentally important part of job satisfaction as it results in a sense of fulfilment and enthusiasm for one’s work which brings people’s passion and best performance forward. In fact, it has been found that employee engagement accounts for 96% of the organisational satisfaction and turnover relationship.

When we are perceived as a valuable asset to the company, are personally recognised for our contributions and experience opportunities for growth and development we are more committed to the job and the company strategy. In fact, people perceive a lack of development and career advancement to be the most important reason for leaving their job. And this may be the key to retaining skilled staff, as 92% of people are more likely to stay in company if they believe their development is considered and integrated by their managers.

So why do people leave?

People seek certain basic needs to be met before they feel a sense of job satisfaction. The fundamental needs required for employees to feel engaged, valuable and productive are listed below:

  • They need to know what is expected from them at work
  • They need to have the resources and materials required to perform the job
  • They need to be individually and consistently recognised for their specific task performance
  • They require good co-worker connections where there is equity of accountability across the board
  • They need to see a future in their work, one that is recognised and supported by the organisation

These fundamental needs enable employees to experience job satisfaction at work and in turn reduce any chances of intention to quit.

Management Strategies for Staff Retention

Managers are the mediators between the task and individual however many are not aware of the vital role they play in ensuring employee engagement and satisfaction and in turn their direct impact on staff retention and turn over. Below are a few strategies that can help you to keep and build your skilled workforce:

  • Have regular progress discussions

People want to know they have a future in their work and that the company they commit to is committed to developing them. Having regular progress discussions allows you to recognise these desired areas of development and helps facilitate integration of these goals into task allocation and adjustments. These discussions should be separate from the yearly performance reviews and can also help to improve attitudes towards the review process.


  • Strengths focus and good Interest-Job Fit

While the work doesn’t necessarily change having an awareness of your team members individual strengths can help to not only increase engagement and fulfilment in tasks but can help to ensure a good interest-job fit. This is fundamental part of an employee’s experience of job satisfaction and fine-tuning tasks to meet the strengths of you team members will result in greater co-worker connections and overall performance.

 It’s not about money- it’s about value

Despite popular belief, financial incentives and pay are not an effective strategy for retaining staff. In fact less than 22% of people site this as their reason for leaving. People want to be recognised for the value they bring. This is done through regular feedback and recognition, that is personal and specific to their unique work task and performance.

  • 360 Degree Feedback

This can be bold step for many managers as it involves receiving feedback from all levels (subordinates, peers and higher management). This process of communication allows those around you to provide feedback and in doing so allows you to see your situation without biases. It can also increase trust in your employees as they feel there is a two-way street, creating a mutual connection through feedback and learning. This method of feedback can also be used within your team and can help to increase connections and performance.

In Closing

Employee retention is an ongoing concern in any industry and the cost on the company is the high. Managers, being the mediators, have a big role to play in ensuring staff experience engagement at work and in turn have overall positive experiences in the workplace. When people are satisfied and feel a company is interested in their success, they become committed.  To the task, to their co-workers and the company as a whole. The staff retention strategies mentioned above are intended to reduce employee turnover however they are also clear steps for managers to take in creating more positive workplace environments.


Unpacking the term “engagement”

Unpacking the term “engagement”

Over the past few years the buzzword in organisational language has been “engagement”. Global statistics have shown that an average of 18% of employees are engaged with 65% of them not engaged and 25% actively disengaged. The figures for South Africa are lower, with engaged employees at around 12%.

We hear that engagement leads to job performance, job satisfaction and organisational competitive advantages; something that both individuals and institutions strive towards. That being said, we may not be appreciating the complexity of engagement, and are unsure how to change disengaged employees to engaged ones or alternatively sustain engaged employees.

In 1990 William A. Kahn originally defined engagement as a unique and important motivational concept that harnesses one’s full self in terms of cognitive, physical and emotional energies to perform work tasks. The three terms seem obvious, but it’s the combination that makes it an intertwined aspect.

Let’s review each of these energies in detail.

Engaged employees are psychologically fully present, attentive, feel connected, integrated and engrossed with their tasks and performance.

Cognitive and psychological engagement

Cognitive engagement or job involvement is the degree to which an employee relates and identifies with a job to the extent that they think about their work tasks and challenges outside of their physical working hours. Job involvement is influenced by the company’s characteristics such as safety, environment, protocol, policies and leadership styles. Cognitively engaged employees identify strongly with their work and view work situations as opportunities to become actively involved.

Physical engagement speaks directly to taking action and being intrinsically motivated. What dampens this motivation energy is external constraints, contingencies, freedom of choice or control. Competence, autonomy and relatedness foster motivation, effort and persistence to act and perform.

Emotional engagement is associated with the human desire to fulfil subjective psychological needs and values. As an example, we strive for job satisfaction which is a positive state of pleasure. Receiving positive feedback provides inner satisfaction which results in the willingness to contribute further in the company’s effectiveness and efficiency. Job satisfaction is influenced by the person’s job characteristics, leaders and co-workers and one’s personality.

Engagement means that employees bring all three, the cognitive, emotional and physical aspects to their work. In other words, they bring their complete selves, their heart, hands and head to their tasks, company and team. The crux is that engagement means working with all three simultaneously and not in an isolated, fragmented manner.