Does it take role models to retain employees?

Are companies falling short of role models within the organisation? Is that why employee retention is such a challenge? Let’s look for some answers


Employee retention is a critical aspect of any organisation’s success, but many companies are struggling to keep their employees engaged and committed to their roles. One reason for this challenge is that companies are falling short of providing adequate role models within the organisation.

Role models are crucial in providing guidance and motivation to employees, helping them to learn and develop their skills while also building a sense of loyalty towards the company. When employees feel that they are part of a team led by inspiring and influential individuals, they are more likely to stay with the company for long and contribute to its growth.

Gautam Srivastava, VP and head- HR, The Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts, says, “In today’s hybrid or remote working setup, the importance of being connected with the culture has made cultural alignment more vital. A company’s inability to provide role models could pose a significant hurdle in retaining employees since a positive work culture plays a critical role in employee contentment.”

If the culture is toxic or doesn’t align with an employee’s values, they may feel like they don’t belong and begin to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Srivastava is of the opinion that culturally-connected employees feel a strong sense of culture when they hear leaders speak about organisational purpose. Leadership should frequently highlight the purpose of individual employee roles and teams, as well as the company as a whole.

“Having role models in the leadership position is critical to employee retention.”

Gautam Srivastava, VP and head- HR, The Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts

Doing so, according to him, “helps employees realise that, even from their homes, they are contributing to something bigger than themselves in their community, and, depending on the organisation, on a global scale as well. When employees feel they’re part of something bigger than themselves, they feel connected to the culture, regardless of their location.”

However, the reality is that many companies do not invest enough time or resources in developing strong role models within their organisations. In some cases, there may not be any clear leaders or mentors for employees to look up to, leaving them feeling unsupported and disconnected from the company’s mission.

In other cases, companies may have leaders who are skilled in their own right but fail to communicate effectively with employees or fail to lead by example. Leaders who prioritise their own interests over those of the company and its employees are unlikely to inspire loyalty or build a sense of community among their team.

Additionally, companies may be overlooking the importance of creating a diverse range of role models within the organisation. Employees from different backgrounds and with different experiences can bring unique perspectives and skills to the table, but they may struggle to find role models who can relate to their experiences and provide guidance on how to navigate challenges in the workplace.

Srivastava says, “Having role models in the leadership position is critical to employee retention.”

Employees often look to their leaders for guidance and support, and if the leadership team is weak or ineffective, it can leave employees feeling unsupported and uncertain about their future with the company.

Srivastava explains, “A lack of strong role models can make it difficult for employees to see a path forward, and they may start to look for opportunities elsewhere.”

To address this issue, companies need to focus on developing strong role models at all levels of the organisation. This includes investing in leadership training and development programmes to help leaders communicate effectively with employees and build a sense of community and loyalty.

Companies should also prioritise diversity and inclusion efforts, not just as a way to meet compliance standards but as a way to create a more dynamic and supportive workplace culture. By actively seeking out and promoting diverse role models within the organisation, companies can create a more inclusive environment where all employees feel valued and supported.

“While having role models within the organisation may be beneficial, it’s not the sole factor in employee productivity and retention.”

Udbhav Ganjoo, head-HR, global operations, Viatris

By investing in leadership development, promoting diversity and inclusion, and prioritising effective communication and community building, companies can create a workplace culture that inspires loyalty and fosters long-term growth.

Udbhav Ganjoo, head-HR, global operations, Viatris, doesn’t believe that the shortage of role models within an organisation is the reason for discontentment among employees.

In his opinion, every professional has their own role model, who may or may not be within the organisation.

Personal and external factors can also play a role in an individual’s perception of a role model. It would be wrong to assume that all employees look up to their seniors for guidance, as employees at various levels of their careers may have different goals and aspirations.

Ganjoo goes on to add that the concept of role models can be short-lived, and the organisation’s transitions and conduct of business can also influence an employee’s perception.

“While having role models within the organisation may be beneficial, it’s not the sole factor in employee productivity and retention. Young professionals may have their own preferred role models, which could be outside the organisation or related to their field of work.


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