A stronger economy is good news for workers, who have more employment options than they did in the wake of the recession.

But business leaders are likely to face some daunting human-resources challenges. Those who aren't doing everything they can do to keep great employees will risk watching them walk out the door.

Our research shows that 37 percent of employees nationwide — more than 1 in 3 — considered pursuing a better job elsewhere in 2015. That figure is an increase over the previous year (35.7 percent). And keep in mind, we're studying organizations that either qualify as Top Workplaces or aspire to get there. These are companies that reap the benefits of employee engagement at levels more than double the norm in the United States.

What makes employees want to stay? When organizations focus on what really matters — connection, alignment and effectiveness. We see it in the WorkplaceDynamics survey comments, like this one from a Utah-based employee at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG): "I love that the leadership team truly cares about everyone's opinion and is committed to continuous improvement."

Healthy organizations thrive when people feel connected. Whose responsibility is this? Senior leaders'. It is their role to ensure that employees understand where the company is going and how it is getting there.

Biggest challenge: labor

Connection should be a big concern for employers because hiring and retention are not getting easier. Companies are citing a skilled-labor shortage as their most serious long-term challenge. When the Employer Associations of America asked executives to express their greatest challenges for business growth in their industry, hiring was their answer. That's especially a challenge with unemployment below 3 percent in some markets. Utah's unemployment measured 3.4 percent in September, well-below the post-recession highs of 8 percent in early 2010. Employees have more choices.

While pay and perks can offer some happiness, they are part of what we consider "me" factors in workplace engagement. And that's not what earns organizations a place on The Salt Lake Tribune's 2016 Top Workplaces list. What matters more are the "we" factors. With that connection, employees are willing to invest more of themselves. Without it, they are more likely to underperform or leave.

This year's leading workplaces show this sense of connection. It's easy for their employees to explain why "I love my job." For example, a staffer at Lindon's BambooHR said: "I love the people I work with, my manager cares about me and I know it, and I look forward to coming to work every day."

Organizational health pays off

Nationwide, organizations that ranked as Top Workplaces by WorkplaceDynamics reported, on average, a 67 percent employee-engagement rate, according to our surveys in 2015. That compares with 32 percent employee engagement for all U.S. workers, according to the most recent Gallup poll.

Engaged employees are motivated to do great work, loyal to the organization and recommend the organization to others. Lack of engagement hurts productivity, hiring, retention and, ultimately, profits.

Those who "got it" years ago are well-prepared, while organizations without a solid retention plan are probably in trouble. Workplace culture and employee engagement are more important than ever. When you combine the "me" and the "we," you've got the recipe for the organizational health to serve up long-term, sustainable performance.

Doug Claffey is CEO of the research firm WorkplaceDynamics.