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Why Direct Supervisors are the Most Important Influence on Employee Retention

The Great Resignation highlighted that many employees are unhappy at work.

When they got fed up, they left. Not wanting to burn bridges, they told their employers:

“I want to take my career in another direction.”

“I am going to explore another industry.”

“My family wants to move to Delaware.”

When I talk with them, I get vastly different answers.

What they tell their employer may be contributing factors, but it is far more likely that they are leaving because of their direct supervisor.

The relationship between employees and their direct supervisors is a crucial factor in determining whether employees will stay or leave a job.

Studies show that direct supervisors are the most important reason why people stay or leave a job, even more important than the company itself, or the pay and benefits.

If organizations want employees to stay, they need to develop their first- and second-line supervisors.

Supervisors need education and training to develop the necessary skills to effectively lead and engage their teams.

Many companies recognize the impact that direct supervisors have on employee retention and turnover.

Google, one of the world’s largest tech companies, places a strong emphasis on its direct supervisors, referring to them as “managers of the people, not just the work.” Google provides its managers with extensive training and development opportunities to help them build strong relationships with their teams and foster a positive work environment.

Southwest Airlines, despite its computer issues in December of 2022, is known for its strong company culture and high employee engagement. The airline recognizes the importance of direct supervisors in creating a positive work environment and has a comprehensive training program for its managers. The program focuses on leadership skills, communication, and problem-solving, among other areas, to help supervisors effectively engage and motivate their teams.

Poor leadership and ineffective supervision can have a significant impact on employee morale and lead to high turnover rates. A classic example is the retail industry, where employees often cite poor leadership and management as the main reason for leaving their job. This results in increased costs for companies, as they must constantly recruit and train new employees.

Direct supervisors are the most important reason why employees stay or leave a job. Companies that invest in the development of their direct supervisors and provide them with the necessary skills to effectively lead and engage their teams can benefit from higher employee engagement and retention rates.



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