How to Increase Retention and Attract Top Talent

Three Ways to Create an Environment Where Employees Want to Work

Over 40 years of applied research field testing has shown that the three basic psychological needs for autonomy, mastery, and relatedness play a crucial role in increasing employee retention. When these needs are met, employees feel more engaged, happy, successful, and committed to their work. The result is that they want to stay with your company. And this is the critical distinction that leads to higher retention rates: rather than trying to get employees to stay, supporting their psychological needs helps them want to stay.  Let's explore each of these psychological needs and how to support them.

Autonomy (“I believe”)

What is it?

The experience of “I believe” stems from our basic need for Autonomy, which is our need to feel we are the authors of our lives. To feel that we endorse and have ownership of the paths we are traveling and the tasks we are undertaking. Endorsing what we do doesn’t mean we have to enjoy it or even that we chose it. It means that we can see the value behind it, and we accept its importance. When employees have this critical experience of ownership over their work and can personally endorse its value, they don’t want to leave. Further, organizations that support employees’ experience of autonomy are more likely to retain their talent as employees feel a sense of trust and respect from their employers.Two ways to increase autonomy:

  1. Provide a clear rationale for tasks and requests to help employees understand the value of those tasks and requests.
  2. Encourage self-initiation and choice where possible, even over small things.

Mastery (“I succeed”)

What is it?

The experience of “I succeed” stems from our basic need for mastery. Our basic need to be successful. To feel we are effective. And to experience growth and see paths for development. When employees can see their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment, they are more likely to feel engaged and committed to their roles, leading to increased retention.

Two ways to increase mastery:

  1. Give informational feedback that’s focused on growth and improvement, rather than evaluation. Make feedback behavioral and specific, focused on what was done well, and what steps the employee can take to improve.
  2. Offer structure, guidelines, and regular check-ins to ensure they have the necessary tools and understanding to be effective.

Relatedness (“I belong”)

What is it?The experience of “I belong” stems from our basic need for Relatedness, which is our need to feel that we truly matter to those around us. That we are respected, supported and cared for. And that we are able to reciprocate that caring. Organizations that prioritize creating a positive social atmosphere and encourage effective communication and collaboration are more likely to retain employees. When employees feel valued, supported, and connected to their colleagues, they are more likely to stay for the long term.

Two ways to increase relatedness:

  1. Devote individual time and attention to employees regularly.
  2. Check in with them, not just about their work but also their wellbeing. Let them know you have their back.

By supporting employees’ basic psychological needs, organizations can create a work environment that promotes employee well-being, engagement, and commitment. When employees feel like they believe in what they do (autonomy), that they’re successful in the work (mastery), and that they belong among their peers (relatedness), they are more likely to want to stay with your organization, reducing turnover and increasing employee retention.

No items found.
Unlock your organization's potential now