How to Attract and Retain Happy, Loyal Employees

Does it seem like a lot of your employees are jumping ship? According to the Global Workforce Happiness Index from employer branding experts Universum, they're probably leaving for one of the following reasons: better compensation and benefits, better opportunities for advancement, professional development and learning opportunities, or improved work/life balance.

But of course, the index isn't all bad news. In fact, its aim is to help employers avoid these sorts of problems by giving them the data they need to diagnose issues at the local level and respond with tailored solutions.

Maintaining Employee Happiness in a Diverse Workforce​​

"There is no perfect recipe for workplace happiness, but the key is managing expectations so people don't get frustrated," says Andre Siqueira, director of Latin America at Universum. "You need to understand what is attractive to current employees and potential employees and showcase how you live and breathe those values in your organization."

Siqueira's comments align with Universum's general approach to all employer value propositions (EVPs). According to Universum, a great EVP – one that actually attracts and retains happy, loyal employees – must meet five criteria: it must be sustainable, true, attractive, credible, and distinct from other companies.

If companies present their core values clearly, job seekers will be able to relate – and more importantly, they'll know what to expect when joining the organization. Showcasing what makes your company a great place to work can both entice potential employees to join the team and encourage current employees to remain loyal.

"Employer branding isn't just meant for potential future candidates," says Siqueira. "It's really important for your employees as well. Reinforce what makes you unique. Differentiation is a top priority for employer branding strategies – it's really difficult, but critically important."

​​Company Culture Affects Employee Happiness and Loyalty

​Overall, Universum has found that four factors in particular affect a person's desire to work at a company:

How people connect with and perceive the company's brand

The remuneration and career opportunities offered to employees

The role and day-to-day activities of employees

Company culture

"Our studies show that this last component is usually the most important to people, and this can take many forms," Siqueira says. "Some of the most relevant attributes within your company culture are friendliness and respect for people, diversity, and leadership. It's important to understand how you deliver those values and how your initiatives will positively impact your workforce."

​​Retaining Top Talent Without the 'One Employer for Life' Mentality

Now that the "stay with one employer for life" mentality has given way to career paths with lots of twists, turns, and leaps, it is more difficult for employers to retain top talent for long periods of time. What employers have to understand, however, is that people want different things at different stages of life. Understanding how an organization can shape career opportunities to deliver unique experiences to each employee at each career level helps companies retain top talent over longer stretches.

Per Siqueira, there are two strategies that work well not only for retention, but also for building brand ambassadors – that is, employees who positively spread your employer brand message to their networks.

The first successful strategy is keeping an eye on "boomerang" talent – employees who had a good experience with the company, then left, but who might return in the future.

"It's important to have a clear alumni employer brand strategy to remain attractive to this group," says Siqueira.

The second effective strategy is to provide multiple career paths. Offering different business units or roles to top performers will give them various career opportunities within one company, keeping them engaged and less likely to look for change elsewhere.

"We see that the best talent often leaves an organization because they feel their learning curve has slowed," Siqueira says. "So, giving employees different learning opportunities might help retain them."

Employee happiness is critical to both retaining top talent and fostering an environment in which workers deliver great, innovative results. The Happiness Index can help employers zero in on the areas where employee happiness may require some intervention – thereby attracting and retaining more top talent.