3 ways leaders can play a direct part in retaining talent

Leadership and talent

The most common reason that people quit their jobs is because of poor leadership in their organisation. That was the message from workers of all ages, when we recently surveyed more than 900 hiring managers and more than 1,500 professionals across Australia and New Zealand.

Given the importance that professionals place upon leadership, we asked them what they looked for in a good leader. Across the generations, the trait that people valued most was “being open and honest”. 

It follows then, that if executives and managers are seen to be transparent, accountable and trustworthy, then their people will be more likely to stay with the organisation. Here are some practical steps that HR leaders can take to help enable this:

Different people and different organisations will look for different things from their leaders.

  1. Ask. Measure workforce sentiment towards leadership – and then communicate the results widely across the organisation. Professionals want leaders who are open and honest, and that includes those leaders “owning” the results of activities like staff surveys.

  2. Share. Most leaders are extremely time poor, so look for simple ways and channels that allow leaders to share their activities, priorities and outcomes with their people. Then ensure those channels are actively promoted so that the workforce knows about them.

  3. Listen. While “open and honest” was the leadership trait that all generations placed first in our survey, the second-most important trait changed depending upon the age of respondents. Gen Y wanted leaders they could learn from, Gen X wanted leaders who provide structure and direction, and Baby Boomers wanted leaders who were open to ideas. Find out what leadership traits matter most to your particular workforce, and then ensure leaders demonstrate these.

To read our survey results in full, read the whitepaper Generation Gaps? Mythbusting assumptions about age in the workforce.