NEW YORK (MainStreet) — As job markets become more competitive, employers are seeking ways to attract and retain employees. But most employers simply don't know why you stay – or why you go. More than one-third (35%) of employers say worker turnover is rising, but ironically enough, with so many opportunistic workers making a move, the second most important reason they join a company – and the fourth most important reason they stay – is job security.

Most workers feel stuck in their job, with no chance of advancement. According to a global workforce study by Towers Watson, four in ten employees (41%) said they would need to leave their current employer in order to advance their careers.

"Given how important career advancement opportunities are to employees, the fact that so many employees feel stuck should serve as a wake-up call to employers to review their career development programs," said Laura Sejen, managing director at Towers Watson. "Employees will have more opportunities to seek employment elsewhere as hiring activity continues to increase, and employers will be on the lookout for high-potential and top-performing employees."

Company leadership is the number one driver of employee loyalty, according to the study. But less than half (48%) of employees surveyed thought that their organization's senior leadership was effective. Trust and confidence in those at the top were also main reasons why workers remain with a company -- however employers didn't identify any of these factors as keys to hiring and retaining a workforce. Perhaps this disconnect is one reason why less than half (48%) of employees agree that their senior leadership is effective – and why only 46% believe the company they work for actually hires highly qualified workers.

"The importance of leadership can't be overstated," said Sejen. "Employees are more likely to remain at their companies if they have trust and confidence in their senior management and leaders. And importantly, senior leaders, managers and supervisors each play a critical role in fully engaging employees."

Meanwhile, the war for talent is escalating. Nearly half of employers (48%) responding to the global survey said that hiring activity has increased compared to last year -- 15% say hiring has risen significantly. Some two-thirds (65%) are having trouble attracting top performers while more than half reported difficulty retaining high-potential employees (56%) and top performers (54%).

"With talent mobility on the rise, employers need to understand what employees value if they are to succeed in attracting and retaining employees," said Sejen. "Unfortunately, our surveys reveal a significant disconnect between employers and employees. "While employers recognize the importance of pay and career advancement as key reasons employees choose to join and stay with a company, they don't place the same importance on another top attraction and retention driver: job security. Or a key retention driver: trust and confidence in senior leadership."

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet