The Take: Keeping Employees Onboard

What’s News

Roughly 25% of American adults intend to find a new job in 2022. Those new survey results underscore the potential for another year of turmoil in a labor market where 9% of workers have already secured a new job for the new year.


The latest survey, conducted by, confirms the results of other studies and highlights the challenges facing businesses as they struggle to hold onto their employees and fill an unprecedented number of vacancies. As McKinsey noted in a report this week, U.S. employers are facing an exodus of workers who are exhausted, overwhelmed and questioning what work means.

According to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, there are now almost 11 million job openings across the U.S., a near-record high.

The number of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs is also running at record levels, driven by a desire for better pay, as well as more flexibility and remote work. Data from the Atlanta Fed’s Wage Growth Tracker shows that most Americans have achieved higher wages from switching jobs rather than staying at their current ones.

The survey also finds that turnover is expected to be highest among workers in retail, food and hospitality, education and office and administrative support. One out of every two workers are looking for better pay and benefits; 52% of job-seekers anticipate quitting in the first half of 2022 while 26% plan to quit by March.

But contrary to conventional wisdom, the best way to retain employees is rarely just to pay them more. Other factors — including career development as well as an organization’s position on issues such as diversity, inclusion, purpose and sustainability — also play an important role.

SAP’s Take

One of the key indicators of likely job-hopping is employee engagement and, in particular, whether employees feel valued and can see a career path forward.

Data shows that employers that offer positive and fulfilling experiences at work can elevate individual and company performance.

“We know that giving employees agency over their career development is key to retention,” says Jill Popelka, President of SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Global Marketing. “Giving employees opportunities for growth is 100% required to keep your employees and drive a culture of growth and engagement.”

She added: “It’s not just about pay. What we are seeing is people are leaving because they are not fulfilled. If they are viewed as ‘assets’ or ‘inputs’ rather than human beings with unique, individual needs, strengths and interests, compensation is probably not the main driving force to look for work elsewhere.”

“To keep employees happy, organizations need to consider their entire experience — from their team dynamics to compensation to growth opportunities. And they can start with tools and programs they already have. Start by creating a safe and inclusive environment where employees can grow and thrive. Open and encourage coaching, learning and mentoring to enrich their experience.

“Set aside time to talk about growth and development goals. Many people have spent the pandemic thinking about what they want from their career. It is up to leaders and managers to open up those conversations and create an experience for their employees that is aligned to those interests and goals.”

Meg Bear, Chief Product Officer for SAP SuccessFactors, agrees that is an opportunity to  review internal practices: “There is a real opportunity for internal talent mobility.”

The turmoil in the labor market also highlights the key role that the chief human resource officer (CHRO) can play.

“In this environment the CHRO is critical to both stability of business and to seize the opportunity it creates for winning the war for talent,” Bear says.

Joellen Perry, Head of Global Public Relations, SAP
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