Lead your people – they will stay.

The impact leadership has on staff engagement and retention.

Melissa King Kellogg report image

Executive summary

A highly skilled and valued staff member resigning can damage any team or business. Impacts can include significant loss of sales, productivity, and intellectual property loss, not to mention the costs of replacing a staff member. In this current era of low employee engagement and high employee turnover, organisations are losing good and valued people.

This research aimed to understand the impact of leadership on engagement and retention and provide recommendations on how organisations can identify the problem and introduce a meaningful approach to improve culture, engagement, and retention in their organisations.

The reasons for disengagement and turnover in organisations were discovered by comparing, contrasting, and evaluating the significant factors contributing to thriving organisational cultures with engaged and committed people.

This research project consists of a literature review, semi-structured interviews, and a thematic analysis to identify themes. From the analysis, data were evaluated to pinpoint key areas of importance.

Leadership’s impact on staff fulfilment, engagement, and retention is significant and is the fundamental driving factor that can make or break an organisation’s culture, engagement, and retention.

Organisations and leaders recognise the need and underlying benefits of creating a people-centred culture.

Employees will flourish in an environment that is focused on care, support, and growth.

Leadership is instrumental in driving these outcomes, and not enough focus is being placed on this. More significant investment in leadership is the denominating factor in improving culture, engagement, and retention.


  • Make leadership a genuine focus on strategic imperatives.
  • Identify strategies that cultivate a people-centric leadership model to deliver successful engagement and retention outcomes.
  • Cease relying on engagement survey data as the sole feedback for workplace engagement.
  • Convene a working party with a cross-section of people across the business that will meet to review the current organisational culture to create meaningful, authentic, and transparent guiding principles of leadership for the organisation.
  • Commission a case study that investigates people-centric businesses that are achieving success.
  • Prioritise a leadership recruitment strategy with clearly defined guidelines that identify specific leadership skills and attributes that will support recruiting the right people and align with the guiding principles of leadership.
  • Invest in setting up a leadership development programme to deliver the training and skills for a people-centric leadership model.

Grow. Advance. Lead.

Do the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme.