Engagement and Retention

Leaders Make All the Difference

When people are engaged at work, they can achieve more. They're more productive. More innovative. More collaborative. And they're less likely to leave.

But improving engagement and retention depends on one big variable: your leaders. While leaders aren’t the only factor, Gallup data shows the quality of an employee’s manager accounts for a full 70% variance in employee engagement. No one has more impact on an employee’s engagement than their direct leader.

We can help you develop leaders who engage their teams’ heads and hearts, enabling people to perform their best and achieve better business results.


Engagement and Retention Depends on Managers

Research shows that behavior of direct managers has the biggest impact on whether employees decide to stay and how engaged they are in their roles.


Have quit bad bosses

57% of employees say they quit one or more jobs because of bad bosses

DDI Frontline Leader Project


of employees are disengaged

Gallup shows disengagement continues to rise to 68% of all employees

Gallup Employee Engagement Survey 2023


of engagement is dependent on managers

70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager

Gallup State of the Global Workplace


engaged when leaders show empathy

67% of people who have managers showing high empathy report being engaged always or often, compared to only 24% with less empathic managers



of direct reports plan to stay

90% of direct reports whose leaders experienced DDI leadership development do not intend to leave in the next 12 months

DDI Impact Evaluation Data 2023


Engage Employees for Better Retention

Engagement shows us how emotionally and intellectually connected employees are to their organization. Engaged employees believe in what they do and feel valued for doing it. As a result, they have a passion for getting superior results. Leaders play a clear role in driving high engagement:

  • Meaningful work: Leaders help their team members see that what they do matters and contributes to a larger goal.
  • Individual value: Leaders help employees feel appreciated and grow.
  • Positive environment: Leaders enable people to do their best.

When employees are deeply engaged, they are also more likely to stay. Our research found that 90% of direct reports with leaders who have experienced DDI development plan to stay for the next year.

two cartoon hands holding to show there are key skills you can develop in your leaders, such as empathy and coaching for growth, to improve engagement and retention at your company?fm=webp&q=75

5 Key Skills Help Leaders Engage and Retain Teams

Here are some everyday behaviors leaders need to build engaged teams:

  • Empathy: Employees need to feel heard, understood, and connected to their leaders, which helps prevent burnout.
  • Communication: Employees need intentional communication that’s clear and frequent, no matter their work arrangement.
  • Coaching for Growth: Employees feel they are growing, learning, and advancing.
  • Delegation: Employees can take ownership of work that’s appropriate for their skills and stretch to advance skills.
  • Fostering Inclusion: Employees trust their leaders and feel psychologically safe to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to their work.

Leaders with these skills and behaviors have more engaged teams. According to DDI Impact data, 88% of direct reports with frontline managers who experienced DDI development say they are engaged in their role.

Sample Learning Journey

Develop Leaders Who Engage and Retain Strong Teams

View Sample

Driving engagement is at the heart of every leader’s role. Watch the video and download our sample program to discover how a learning journey can prepare leaders to engage and retain their teams.

Since the training, I’ve been much more engaged with my team. I also have a better understanding of what motivates my team members and what’s important to them. By identifying the motivations of each individual, I have developed a more engaged and enthusiastic team.

DDI Leadership Program Participant

Create Your Engagement and Retention Strategy

Engaging your workforce is a job that’s never done, and it requires a commitment from leaders every single day.

We make it easy to help leaders engage their teams now and when times get tough. DDI’s leadership development subscriptions are designed to grow with your leaders and support them through change.

Explore subscriptions