APA survey explores factors related to employee retention

Work-life fit and enjoying what they do top list of reasons why workers stay

By APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program staff

Sept. 13, 2012—Despite uncertainty in the job market, an August 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that the top reasons working Americans say they are staying with their current employers are work-life fit and enjoying the work they do. Fewer employees cited concrete reasons such as benefits, pay or a lack of other job opportunities for remaining on the job.

The Workforce Retention Survey, which was conducted among employed adults ages 18 and older, examined factors related to employee retention. Though benefits (60 percent) and pay (59 percent) were important factors, more than two-thirds of respondents said they choose to stay because they enjoy what they do (67 percent) and have jobs that fit well with other aspects of their lives (67 percent).

Age and gender accounted for some differences in why employees say they remain on the job, with women more likely to cite work-life fit than men (72 percent vs. 62 percent) and employees over the age of 55 more likely to say they enjoy the work than employees in the 18-34 range (80 percent vs. 58 percent).

“Americans spend a majority of their waking hours at work and, as such, they want to have harmony between their job demands and the other parts of their lives,” says David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, who spearheads APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “To engage the workforce and remain competitive, it’s no longer sufficient to focus solely on benefits. Today, top employers create an environment where employees feel connected to the organization and have a positive work experience that’s part of a rich, fulfilling life.”

The survey is part of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP), an initiative designed to promote employee well-being and organizational performance. The program consists of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards, support of local programs currently implemented by 56 state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and a variety of resources for employers and psychologists who work with them. To learn more about the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, visit the PHWP website.

A full report of the survey results is available online.