Motivating Factors in Attraction & Retention

How do organizations in the ag-food value chain face off against others in and out of the industry? How do they stand out amongst the crowd to not only attract, but retain high-performing individuals?

A McKinsey report on attraction and attrition noted several common themes amongst those surveyed. The survey identified numerous motivating factors, both to stay and to leave an organization. Key points included adequacy of total compensation, meaningfulness of work, adequacy of workplace flexibility, and adequacy of career development and advancement, among others.

In other words, while compensation is still an integral facet, as has been traditionally, additional less-tangible factors are also highly valued.


Harvard Business Review outlined several significant components to be considered when building compensation plans, beginning with the organization’s strategic goals. From there, looking at variable versus fixed pay, incentives – both short and long-term – and benefits, as well as company size and level of risk are crucial in the creation of a competitive compensation package.

Understanding that candidates are looking at hiring and employment from a different lens these days is critical to organizations searching for high-quality talent that sticks.

Organizations that position their purpose or mission, as well as highlighting how the open position plays a vital role in the company, resonate with candidates on a deeper level. According to McKinsey research presented on their podcast, approximately 70% of people define their purpose through work, as the desire to find meaningfulness through connection and contribution grows.

Candidates are not only searching for organizations that align with their values, they are looking for companies that respect and foster a healthy life-work balance.


The topic of workplace flexibility is commonplace, but what it means varies org to org just as much as it does person to person. Hybrid work options, fair amounts of PTO, parental leave, and flexible schedules are just a few ways companies can appeal to more candidates.

Additionally, top-tier talent isn’t interested in stagnant roles. Personalized options for career development and advancement are integral considerations for them. Organizations that create individualized growth plans and invest in the career development of their employees are fostering a culture of encouragement and engagement, leading to better retention.

Graphic from McKinsey