Push and pull factors in the workplace that are crucial to employee retention
Engagement 3 minute read

Push and pull factors in the workplace that are crucial to employee retention

Megan Orr | November 16, 2021

Push and pull factors in the workplace are the elements that contribute to your employee retention and recruitment. While some of these factors may be outside of your control, many of them aren’t.

Psychometric testing and software company Psytech writes that “push factors stem from an underlying unhappiness with [an employee’s] employment or unmet expectations, while pull factors are the benefits and attractors (perceived or actual) of moving to another organisation/role”.

Outside of the workforce, push and pull factors generally refer to the reasons people leave their homeland. Are they being pushed to emigrate because of poor living conditions or pulled to immigrate because of better opportunities? The answer is usually a combination of both push and pull factors. 

The same can be said about push and pull factors in the workplace. Employees will be pushed out of your workplace for a variety of reasons, such as poor working conditions, bad management, understaffing, and being overworked. Employees are pulled to other organizations because of factors such as better pay and benefits, more desirable work, and greater flexibility.

It’s important that, as an employer, you understand both the push and pull factors in the workplace that may lead to your employees leaving. 

Some of these push and pull factors may be outside of your control, such as the economy, which may make employees either cautious or emboldened to pursue new opportunities. Additionally, younger employees are statistically more likely to quit, specifically those between the ages of 20 and 25. 

Some common issues that push employees out of a role are:

  • Poor compensation/benefits
  • Little or no growth opportunities
  • High levels of stress
  • Poor work-life balance
  • Challenging manager relationships
  • Difficult or non-existent relationships with colleagues
  • Lack of flexibility

Some of the reasons why employees are pulled to another organization:

  • Better compensation and benefits
  • More opportunities for growth
  • Better physical location
  • Desirable company culture
  • Job is more aligned with interests/goals

Many of these push and pull factors in the workplace are connected and can be controlled, at least partially, by the employer. It’s important for employers to consider what they offer employees (current and potential)—their pull factors—and what they may be doing to contribute to resignations—their push factors. 

Having a strong recruitment strategy that includes proactively networking, reaching out to potential candidates, and consistently promoting open roles will help pull in talent. Regularly checking in with current employees, providing support and opportunities for feedback, as well as clear opportunities for growth will help with retention. 

Recruitment and retention strategies should both focus on creating a positive and engaging company culture. Emphasizing the employee experience will ensure that employees feel valued and are less likely to search for employment elsewhere.

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