According to Gallup, 51% of employees admit that they’re either actively or passively searching for a new job. That is not good news for organizations, which is why many have become increasingly focused on employee retention.
Every expert has a different answer to employee retention, whether it’s a flexible schedule, work-life balance, career growth, or more empathetic management. Unfortunately, there isn’t one magic bullet to guarantee that your high-performing employees will stick with you.
But here’s some good news: Employees care about innovation. In fact, according to our recent study, 82% of leaders agree that innovation helps recruit and retain talent, and 70% of information workers say it can reduce churn. What’s more, 52% of information workers worry their jobs are at risk if their companies fail to innovate. It’s something that they want to see their company doing more of — and they want to be part of.
Below we’ll tell you why being on the cusp of the latest and creating exciting products keeps employees happy and engaged. It’s a win-win for teams and organizations as a whole.
1. Innovation provides career opportunities
Despite what the “quiet quitting” or “lazy girl job” trends will lead you to believe, most employees don’t want to clock in, invest the bare minimum, and clock out. Quite the opposite, actually. They want to learn new skills, tackle new challenges, and advance their careers.
Here’s the proof:
Data from Pew Research Center says that 63% of respondents who left jobs in 2021 cited a lack of advancement opportunities as the reason.
- Lack of career development and advancement was the most common reason for quitting a job, according to this McKinsey research.
However, employees’ opportunities to push the envelope and expand their knowledge are limited when a company doesn’t prioritize innovation. How can they advance their own skills and careers with a company that continues to stick with the status quo? When the company is stuck, employees are stuck too.
In contrast, organizations that invest in innovation show that they’re committed to growth. The growth of their employees and the entire company.
2. Innovation builds a better world
Employees see work as more than just a means to a paycheck. 70% of them saying their sense of purpose is defined by their work. They’re values-driven (this is especially true of early talent coming into the working world) and want to do meaningful work that makes a bigger impact.
Case in point: 86% of employees say they want to work for a company with values that align with their own. And when they feel that their values do match up, research shows they’re less likely to leave their employer.
This doesn’t mean that today’s employees will only work for organizations that are saving sea turtles. Rather, it’s about being able to see the direct impact of their work — even if it’s within the company. That’s hard to do if you don’t give them the voice, support, and encouragement to openly contribute and innovate.
3. Innovation fosters happier workplaces
Employees want to be happy at work, which makes sense since they spend so much time there. That’s why a toxic work culture is the top driver of employee attrition.
Fortunately, innovation plays a large role in employee happiness, too. When workers have the opportunity and psychological safety to share new ideas — along with the confidence that their employers will actually consider and maybe even implement them — they’re more satisfied in their careers.
In fact, research shows that innovative work directly improves employee happiness. And that becomes a positive cycle, as happy employees are also more innovative. Innovation inspires happiness and happiness inspires innovation.
Innovation and retention: Two sides of the same coin
Retaining talent is the top priority for organizations this year, even ahead of revenue. But figuring out how to keep talent engaged and invested can feel like an impossible puzzle.
But research shows that a focus on innovation fuels career opportunities gives employees a sense of meaning, and improves happiness — all of which could encourage them to stick with your company for the long haul.
So for organizations that want to keep top talent on the payroll, it’s time to look inward at your own values, processes, and approach. After all, there’s a big difference between asking, “How do we keep them from leaving?” and asking, “How do we make this a place they want to stay?”