Employees Don’t Leave Companies, They Leave Bosses

By Betterworks
November 1, 2016
4 minute read

It’s plain and simple: millennials are taking over the corporate world. By 2020 they will make up about 46% of the workforce, and by 2030, that number will rise to 75%. If you want your corporation to thrive, you need to focus not only being the boss the company needs, but the boss that this younger generation is eager to work for.

Unlike older generations, the millennial generation prioritizes meaningful work and job satisfaction, and they prioritize it immediately. While baby boomers and older populations believed that success was attained through accomplishment and struggle, millennials love the thrill of immediate gratification and are proportionately less likely to stick with something if it is an unenjoyable experience. According to an article by Mcleod & More, the Hootsuite CRO said the thing he loved most about millennials is that “is they look at work and say, life’s too short. If it’s not aligned around my purpose I’m going to go somewhere else.”

Likewise, millennials are all about authenticity and look for honest feedback and engagement in any given job setting. As the generation raised in the storm of social media platforms, millennials are easily able to spot authenticity. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin dictating many aspects of our day-to-day lives, it is easy see whether or not people align with their social media presence in real life.

Accordingly, if there is a lack of genuinity and transparency in the workplace, this generation is quick to react, and is more likely to be unengaged. These unengaged employees are most likely to sleep, play games, go on social media, socialize, or smoke on the job, with social media costing employers upward of 2.25 billion dollars of lost hours of work each year. And if there is one person who can retain employees and keep them motivated through meaningful work, real-time feedback, and transparency, it’s the boss.

Google is Paying Attention
Leave it to Google to know that
employees don’t leave companies, they leave bosses. For the second year in a row, and sixth time overall Google has ranked number one in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” With the help of now-retired HR Head Laszlo Bock, Google builds for employees the boss of their dreams based on the data collected by their people analytics team, which studies the traits that set apart their greatest managers–those who perform better, retain better, and genuinely enjoy their jobs.

According to an article by Business Insider, “Google built a training program that teaches every manager how to embrace these qualities…once managers complete the program, the company measures their behavior to ensure they’re making improvements and morphing into managers that Googlers want to work for.” What the analytics team found is this: qualities that the boss can control, like passion and integrity, lead to better employee motivation than innate characteristics, such as intelligence or attractiveness.

With Google’s findings in mind, we decided to dive further into the qualities of a good boss, and this is what we found. First, a good leader is passionate, and sacrifices for his or her employees. Emotion often times seems contagious, and when a boss is unable to control how much they love what they do, it tends to catch on. Passionate leaders that give up time in a busy workday to move obstacles and provide feedback for their workforce, are more likely to see a reciprocal effort.  

Establish Trust
Next, a good boss is trustworthy, and appreciative of each employee’s individual strengths. Studies have shown that 87% of engaged employees trust their executives, while 57% of unengaged employees don’t, and that trust in executives can have upwards of twice the impact of trust in managers.  What this means is this: give your employees reason to trust that you will deliver on deadlines, rewards, and goals, and they will too. A good boss appreciates each employee’s individual strengths, and provides unique feedback, acknowledging that each employee is not just a cog in a machine, but rather an important part of a functioning company.

To be the leader workers are happy to work for, a boss must also be consistent, relatable and humble. Day in and day out, an effective manager is predictable and reliable in execution, and knows how to act under strenuous circumstances. He or she must humanize the bond they have with their workforce by listening, understanding, and being flexible to their wants and needs. A good boss is humble–not arrogant or haughty with regards to his or her accomplishment but eager to see his company and each individual that comprises it thrive.

Bottom Up Approach to Communication & Motivation
Last, the boss everyone wants communicates, and knows how to motivate employees. He or she communicates what they want and do not want and are consistent in these needs. They pay attention from the bottom up, and are proactive about any grievances. This leader knows how to encourage his or her workforce, aware that pay raises increase performance by 30%, job redesigns increase performance by 17%, and goal setting raises performance by 16%. To become this motivational boss, it is important to acknowledge that the top reason for employees leaving is that there is no room for advancement. As such, give employees room for advancement and internal development to avoid this.

By paying attention to the results Lazslo Bock and his people analytics team at Google found, and by following the above recommendations, you can become the boss no employee would ever leave. In a job seeking world that is growing more and more candidate driven, the millennials have more power than ever to stick with or leave the company. At the end, it comes down to the effectiveness of a boss and how he or she reacts to an employee’s simple question: should I stay or should I go?