The Power of Relationships: A New Perspective on Retention

Recent data from WeCare Connect, a leading provider of employee surveys in the U.S. and Canada, has spotlighted an often-overlooked aspect of employee retention: the unparalleled power of relationships. This reminds us that while the initial allure of a job might be pay, location, or company reputation – it’s the relationships formed within the organization that often become the anchor.

People like to be connected, and they thrive in relationships. But have we, as leaders, truly grasped the magnitude of this sentiment? Have we adequately channeled our resources into nurturing these connections within our organizations?

We often emphasize compensation packages, facility amenities, or brand value during the hiring process. While these are important, the magnetic pull of positive relationships can, in many instances, supersede these tangible benefits. (On the flip side, the corrosiveness of negative relationships can be the sole reason someone exits an otherwise dream job.)

It’s important to keep in mind that what attracts someone to a job isn’t necessarily what keeps them there. As leaders, it’s crucial to recognize this distinction.

Take, for example, the experience of a caregiver in the senior care industry:

Caregivers are particularly affected by the relational dynamics at their workplaces. Their role is fundamentally built on connecting with and understanding their residents, their families, and their colleagues. Relationships with their leaders, peers, and residents are not just secondary perks but are core to their professional fulfillment.

But those personal connections don’t happen instantly. I’ve encountered countless instances where leaders are initially baffled by a new employee’s lack of dedication to residents. “Isn’t patient care their mission?” they ponder. Yet, it’s essential to understand that passion for resident care often blossoms after they’ve established meaningful relationships with their residents. As these bonds deepen, so does their commitment.

So, what are some retention strategies?

Similarly, encouraging new hires to find “work friends” is not merely a feel-good strategy. If they forge connections that go beyond merely sharing a shift, they’re more resilient during challenging times. They’ll think twice before taking an unscheduled day off, knowing the added burden it places on their colleagues. This bond is invaluable.

Unfortunately, many organizations have streamlined onboarding to the extent that there’s scant time for basic team building. We’ve become so engrossed in efficiency that we’ve sidelined one of the most human aspects of work – connection. This is a clarion call to all leaders: Bring back team building! And no, this doesn’t require extravagant outings or quirky games. A simple 2-minute team-building activity during staff meetings can work wonders (Check out our 2-Minute Team-Building Questions PDF here!).

I once assisted a company grappling with cultural challenges and high turnover. When I engaged with teams individually, a resounding sentiment emerged. Many weren’t particularly fond of the top leadership or some of the company policies, but they stayed. Why? They cherished their teams and couldn’t bear to let their work friends down.

That, leaders, is the indomitable strength of relationships. It’s high time we recognized it, nurtured it, and harnessed its potential for the greater good of our organizations and the incredible people who power them.


Cara Silletto, MBA, CSP, is a workforce thought leader, keynote speaker, and author of the book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer

WeCare Connect is a leading provider of employee surveys with clients in over 1,300 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. We provide real-time notifications and robust dashboards driving down turnover and increasing engagement.

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