If you want to keep employees, companies say you must have a strong brand and mission — one workers can trust.

And that mission must be carried out by actions. For example, in the pandemic's aftermath, many employers added work-from-home options and programs to support mental health. They tried to cultivate, as much as they could, a solid work-life balance for employees.

And for good reason. Even though the economy has shifted, surveys show workers are still drawn to companies with a good culture and strong values. And they're willing to quit if the company does not live up to its values.

Washington, D.C.-based Gallup, an analytics and advisory firm, found that 48% of employees are either watching for or actively seeking a new job.

In 2023, workers told Gallup they left jobs because they did not mesh with the company's engagement and culture, needed to look out for their well-being and work-life balance or did not have strong managers and leaders. Pay and benefits also were factors.

Even though there are pockets of layoffs, the economy is still healthy overall, with a low unemployment rate in Minnesota and a continued fight to fill jobs.

The work environment has become increasingly important to employees, said Shannon Robideau, senior human resources business partner with Arden Hills-based Frandsen Bank & Trust, which was sixth on the Star Tribune Top Workplaces list of large companies.

"I do think the market has changed over the last few years," she said. "People's values have changed."

The company has a set of principles called the "Frandsen Way," which include an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, and professional development that resonate with employees and deepen their commitment to the company.

"We invest in our people's development. People are able to grow," Robideau said.

Edina-based Gentle Transitions: A WellRive Company manages moves for people, primarily seniors. The company works to ease the stress and anxiety of downsizing and moving to a new location. Gentle Transitions is not a moving company but its staff packs and unpacks the goods that are being moved.

The mission is important for many Gentle Transitions staffers.

"What we do is very meaningful work. That's a big part of it," said Tracy O'Connor, general manager of Gentle Transitions, which was sold last year to Texas-based Corporate Relocation International.

Almost 30% of employees have worked at Gentle Transitions for five years or longer. "Because people enjoy working here, we get a steady stream of referrals," she said.

Key to retaining employees is an "extremely flexible work schedule," O'Connor said. "Workers work when they want to."

For the city of Eden Prairie, work culture is the foundation, but benefits also are important.

"We have tuition reimbursement, budgets dedicated to training and opportunities for employees to learn new skills on the job," said Rick Getschow, Eden Prairie's city manager.

In some cases, city benefits can help staffers in trying health situations.

"We have benefits that help employees personally, whether they need to be out of work for their own serious health condition or need to take care of a family member," Getschow said. "We pay 100 percent of wages after a short waiting period to allow an employee to focus on themselves or their loved one so they don't have to juggle work and family during a difficult time."

Still, Getschow said government workplaces are like anywhere else. If employees don't like coming to work, Eden Prairie risks higher turnover.

"We know that employees will not stay with a company with poor management or culture," Getschow said. "We work hard to make coming to work as enjoyable as we can."