What Makes Employees Stay?

Several of Facebook's HR leadership decided to conduct some research as to why employees left the social media powerhouse. They were testing the maxim that people don't quit jobs - they quit bosses. When they commenced their research, they expected to see the boss-quitting rule hold true. Instead, they learned something different according to an article they write for Harvard Business Review.

The article suggests the main drivers around why people leave jobs are "their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers".

The article goes on the say that it's important to do things like "craft jobs for enjoyment", and look for opportunities to let employees work from home and use strengths they don't usually get to utilise.

That's all nice advice but I'm going to suggest that there's a little more to it. You need a corporate culture that values those things. And culture is defined by corporate leadership and enacted by management. If you have a personnel turnover issue (and I'm not suggested Facebook does) then you need to look a little further than "I don't like the boss" to ask questions about what is it that the boss is doing that makes the workplace unattractive.

There are some interesting insights in the article. For example, the case of one senior person hiring her successor so she could move back into a role that gave her more satisfaction rather than management is interesting. In many businesses, management and leadership (I say both because I think they are very different things) are seen as aspirational roles. But we fail to award excellence in other roles that aren't higher up in the org chart.

It might sound a little too egalitarian or even socialist, but I'd love to see an organisation where the CEO wasn't then highest paid person in the company and recognition that their role was no more or less important than anyone else's. After all, management and leadership are skills that can be developed, just as are technical skills like software development, graphic arts or preparing a meal.

A CEO might be great at creating a strategy but execution requires different skills that are no less important.

I think the Facebook study is interesting but the conclusions reported in the article are really about creating a workplace that values people and lets them use their skills and talents in rewarding ways.


    If a company is large enough, it's good to move people around internally from time to time. Opportunities, as a reward for loyalty / performance, and a chance to develop new skills.

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