In 2017, Gallup released the third iteration of their infamous workplace report, the State of the American Workplace.

Using data collected from more than 195,600 U.S. employees in 2015 and 2016, Gallup asked employees to indicate how important certain job attributes are when considering whether to jump ship and take another gig with a different organization.

The top factor in the minds of most employees across the country? Gallup summarizes it in one sentence: The ability to do what they do best.

When they don't get to experience this regularly, they exit early. It seems like common sense. Shouldn't every employer or manager allow for valued workers to feel this way about their work every day? Common sense, yes; common practice, no.

As a result (among other reasons below), more than half of employees (51 percent) say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings; more than one in three employees (35 percent) have changed jobs within the last three years; and 91 percent of employees left their company to do so.

Top 5 reasons why your people are leaving.

Before I expound on this idea of workers being able to "do what they do best," here are the five things workers value most in a role and organization, ranked in order of importance. This can give managers greater insight into why some of their own employees may be leaving soon.

  • The ability to do what they do best.
  • Greater work-life balance and better personal well-being.
  • Greater stability and job security.
  • A significant increase in income.
  • The opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation.

The "why" behind the need to 'do what they do best.'

Sixty percent of employees -- male and female of all generations -- say the ability to do what they do best in a role is "very important" to them. How do you bring that into fruition?

Employees do their best in roles that enable them to showcase and integrate their biggest strengths: talent (the natural capacity for excellence); skills (what they can do); and knowledge (what they know).

And companies are leaving money on the table by not recognizing these strengths beyond a job description, and how it all translates to high performance.

People love to use their unique talents, skills, and knowledge. But most conventional managers don't know what those things truly are.

The best leaders will leverage close relationships with employees by finding out what their strengths are, and bringing out the best in their employees.

In fact, when managers help employees develop through their strengths and natural talents, they are more than twice as likely to engage their team members.

A plan of action.

It would behoove managers to first learn the talents, skills, and knowledge of their employees, and craft and assign meaningful work beyond a static job description. Here's what Gallup recommends as a strategy for attracting and retaining workers:

1. To get employees to "do what I do best," match the right person with the right role and the right culture. Gallup states that "when employees are a mismatch for their role and organization, they often struggle to succeed or become bored and restless."

2. Stress to potential employees, during recruitment and hiring strategies, that you value individual strengths as an organization and hire and develop people based on what they do well.

3. After hire, retain employees by developing a systematic approach to identifying the right fit and assimilating new hires onto teams where their strengths can be optimized.

While a daunting task, giving employees roles that allow them to make the most of their strengths must be addressed, or your top talent, according to Gallup, will never reach their potential before choosing to leave for the next opportunity.

Published on: May 14, 2018
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