September 22, 2021

The Key to Employee Retention: Knowing What Your Individual Contributors Care About

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While individual contributors (ICs) and executives may have the same business goals, your ICs probably care about different things when it comes to what they want from their employment. To be effective as an executive, you need to know what your employees care about, so you can keep them engaged with the business. So what’s really important to your ICs?

What do your employees want?


One of my close friends has been working at the same job for nearly ten years. She does far more than what’s listed in her job description, is reliable, and has been very loyal, refusing to even look at other jobs. However, she has to have a side business just to afford her (modest) lifestyle in a small town in South Carolina. When she asked for a raise and a retirement match and stated her case, not only did they deny her outright, but they also refused to give her the extra week of vacation she was due per the handbook. For the first time, she’s seriously considering leaving.

My friend isn’t greedy. She doesn’t want more money just because. She’s doing more work than her job is paying her for, and she actually can’t afford to live on her salary alone. She’s not looking for wealth, but she is looking for stability and the ability to save for her future.

While more money is always going to make an employee happy, they’re unlikely to seek it elsewhere unless they need it to improve their quality of life or that’s their main motivator. If employees are happy in their job, just a salary increase isn’t going to tempt them to leave for a company they know nothing about. Employees appreciate the stability of a workplace they know and aren’t likely to shake things up unless there’s a problem.


Now that many employees have proven they can be just as productive at home as they are in the workplace, they want the option to continue working from home. As an executive, you better have a very good reason if you’re planning to tell your team they have to come back into the office, especially with all of the options for remote working software. Otherwise, they’ll likely look for another job that offers more flexibility.

Work location is just one aspect of flexibility, however. Flexibility may also include work hours, paid time off (PTO), or even how your employees complete their work. Maybe one of your employees is a night owl that works better from 7-10 PM than they do from 8-11 AM. If they’re not dealing with clients and they complete their assignments by the deadline, working hours really shouldn’t matter.

Also read: 7 Lesser Known Benefits that Make Employees’ Lives Easier


A company that I previously worked for installed software onto our computer that would track how many times we clicked or typed on our computer, and it would take screenshots of our computer randomly every ten minutes or so. The worst part? I was an in-office worker and salaried. I felt like I had to explain every weird screenshot or that I would get in trouble if it took a picture while I was choosing a podcast on Spotify.

Your employees aren’t children, and most of the time, they know how to manage themselves effectively and be productive.

That level of distrust stressed me out a lot, and I ended up burning out relatively quickly. Your employees aren’t children, and most of the time, they know how to manage themselves effectively and be productive. Your performance management software should tell you if employees are meeting their goals, but until then, have faith that you’ve hired the right people.

Feeling valued

Of people who want to leave their job, 39 percent said it was because they don’t feel valued at work. Employees want to know that their work matters and they’ll continue to have a place within the organization. And this valuation doesn’t have to be expensive. A gift card to their favorite coffee shop or music streaming service can tell your employees that you appreciate their work and recognize them as more than just a faceless worker.

Employee engagement software that includes feedback surveys can help you keep a pulse on how valued your employees feel in their roles. It can also allow employees to recognize and thank each other, deepening the sense of camaraderie among your team.

Also read: 5 Pulse Survey Solutions for Your Engagement Woes

Finding out and implementing what’s important to your ICs

Your individual contributors don’t all fall into the same categories. They have different extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, and you won’t be able to find out what those are unless you ask. Additionally, it may change over time, so you’ll need to keep checking in with employees to see how they’re feeling.

To find the best employee engagement software for your business, use our Product Selection Tool. Once you fill out our survey, you’ll get a short, unbiased list of software recommendations tailored to the needs of your company.

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