We all know the old saying that employees stay in a job because of good pay and perks. But recent studies have made us rethink this. In the wake of the event known as the Great Resignation, Mortensen and Edmondson (2023), in their Harvard Business Review article, have suggested that it’s not just about the money. Instead, they’re encouraging companies to focus on something different – the growth and development of their workers.

Let’s break it down. Imagine you’re working at a job where you’re getting a good salary and maybe some bonuses. It feels great at first, right? You might even feel a surge of joy every payday. But the thing is, many other companies can offer the same. If money is all you’re getting, you might eventually ask yourself: Is this all there is? You might start feeling unfulfilled—even with a fat paycheck.

In contrast, imagine a job where you’re continually learning new things. Maybe they’re letting you handle new tasks, or they’re letting you switch roles from time to time to see what you like. You might be sent to training programs to improve your skills. Or you’re being promoted because of your hard work. Wouldn’t you feel more satisfied and excited about your job?

That’s what Mortensen and Edmondson are saying. They believe that providing chances for employees to learn and improve can make them happier and more engaged with their work. If they’re happy, they’re likely to stay longer. These researchers have even found that some people are willing to receive smaller paychecks if they find their job fulfilling and they see a chance to grow in their careers.

Think of your employees as plants. Just like how a plant needs more than water (or in this case, money) to grow, employees also need sunlight and nutrients (or in this case, opportunities for growth and development). You can’t just flood a plant with water and expect it to grow beautifully. Likewise, you can’t just shower employees with money and expect them to stay loyal and engaged.

So, it’s not just about offering bigger paychecks or fancier office perks. It’s about fostering an environment where your employees can learn, improve, and see a future. By understanding and applying this idea, employers can better navigate the ever-changing job market and retain their valuable staff.

About the Author

Maria Codilla is the Practice Manager for pork production/processing at Continental Search, a leading recruiting team in the animal sciences. She is a NAPS Certified Personnel Consultant and has the latest opportunities for swine farm managers, nutritionists, geneticists, and veterinarians.

Maria first joined Continental Search as Content Manager. Her impressive interpersonal skills earned her promotion to Talent Scout and then to Feed Mill Recruiter. For the latest job opportunities, connect with Maria on LinkedIn or email her at maria@continentalsearch.com.