With all of the discussion about the Great Resignation, organizations must find research-proven strategies for retaining their workforce. Current discussions on this topic frequently mention flexibility, wages, and shared leadership. However, research on this topic indicates the answer may be more basic. 

A recent study in South Africa uncovered that employees make decisions to stay or leave based on the behaviors of their leaders. This study described the need for leaders to provide a sense of belonging and respect. They summarized their findings as: “It is believed that the ability of leaders to connect at the human interface will continue to significantly influence talent retention, in the future.”

Another study found that while poor leadership drives people out, exemplary leaders help people to commit. They found that 60% of respondents reported leaving a company because of a “bad boss”. Similar to other studies on the topic, they found that when employees have regular productive interactions with their bosses they are more likely to stay. The authors suggest that ongoing leadership training is needed to support leaders. Training that focuses on the leader’s ability to connect with others and communicate, as well as listen. 

It turns out that these studies support our findings at Meaning-Centered Leadership. The first element of Meaning-Centered Leadership is Engagement. It’s Engagement that is built by establishing trusting relationships, showing care and concern and using open communication and active listening. Leaders must be able to build trusting relationships that allow them to convey appreciation and respect. 

The research makes it very clear: building positive relationships is essential to engaging and retaining your workforce. So how are you building relationships within your workforce? See how Meaning-Centered Leadership can help.


 1 Mey, M. R., Poisat, P., & Stindt, C. (2021). The influence of leadership behaviours on talent retention: An empirical study. South African Journal of Human Resource Management, 19(1)

 2 Bake, M. (2019). The Importance of Leadership and Employee Retention. Radiologic Technology, 90(3), 279–281