The main reason that top talent stay at a firm — you know, really bright, talented people want to stay and grow their careers with an organization — are that they really feel like they are making a difference. I mean, that’s number one. I’ve got to feel like the work that I do has meaning. And that it is benefiting somebody, that it is enriching someone’s life. It’s not just about the money. It’s not that the work I do makes money for us. I mean, that’s important too, but there have to be some contextual elements, like my work is making a difference in somebody’s individual life, or I am making the companies I serve better, I’m saving them money, I’m giving them peace of mind. I mean, I’ve got to have some meaning. And a lot of times, organizations don’t make sure that their people understand the difference that the work they do makes. And so it’s kind of like I work in isolation on this stuff, and I don’t really get what it does for anybody, and it seems sort of clerical, maybe, at first, and rote, even, when I am first starting out in a CPA firm, and if you don’t have me understand the big picture of how this deliverable will impact someone’s life, then I might think that my job doesn’t have meaning, and that might me quit. So having meaning is really critical.
I think also being empowered. I have to believe that you believe in me, and I have to continue to grow and have my boundaries expanded. I need to learn; I need to be given new opportunities as my skills increase and get better. I want you to keep giving me bigger boundaries and giving me bigger challenges. So feeling truly empowered, and sometimes in our relationship, in order for me to stay with your firm, I need to feel like you trust me to make decisions, that you are empowering me to do that.
And then the third thing that causes talent to stay in an organization is I have to feel like I belong. I have to feel like the organization that I belong to mirrors my values, that the people I hang out with, I like, that I trust, I respect them, and that they like me. I have to feel like I belong to that team. And so really meaning, empowerment, and belonging — those are the things that cause people to stay.