5 Steps for Managing Turnover — and Minimizing It in the Future

INTRODUCTION

In a job market that favors employees, it should be no surprise that employers are seeing higher rates of voluntary turnover.1 As the number of job openings increases, employees are less inclined to put up with whatever is frustrating them about their workplace. Whether they’re slowly retreating away from a company culture out of sync, running away from a lack of pay equity, or simply pursuing a better opportunity on the horizon, highly-skilled employees who have options won’t hesitate to investigate them.

A high rate of turnover is bad news for employers. Not only does it chip away at your carefully calibrated company culture, but recent tallies indicate it comes with a hefty price tag of up to 33% of an employee’s annual salary, 2 or as much as $15,000 for an employee making $45,000. And when there’s a 13% average voluntary turnover rate3 across industries, that cost adds up.

Here’s how five active HR experts work to minimize turnover and build teams that last:

1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of turnover

Before you start to troubleshoot a turnover problem, you should be evaluating your hiring and onboarding processes. According to Russell Lobsenz, SVP, People at Socure,5 hiring for fit is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy turnover rate.

“People leave their jobs for many reasons, but one of the most common is when the individual’s interests, skills, expectations, and values don’t match the reality of the job and organization,” says Lobsenz. “When companies paint a false portrayal of the role, it usually results in a rude awakening for the employee down the road. But when there is a strong alignment between the individual’s expectations and what the role offers, they will focus their energy on the things that matter most to the business. They will be more engaged in their work, and ultimately more likely to stay.”

2. Give employees something to stretch for

According to Glassdoor research of more than 5,000 real-world job transitions, one of the biggest factors that had an impact on employee turnover was regular employee advancement into new roles.6 And in an article written for The Harvard Business Review, the Facebook People Ops team found that a significant factor in attracting and retaining high-performing talent was building growth into work — making it enjoyable, creating new jobs for new interests, and finding opportunities for skilled employees to work on their underutilized strengths.7

“Exciting work and opportunities for growth, like stretch projects, keep people engaged,” says Asad Bawa, Talent Acquisition Leader in Orange County, CA.8 “Many times when I reach out to candidates for new positions, the ones that do not want to leave and are satisfied are typically those that are working on exciting things and are on a growth path.”

3. Make room for social connections

Fern Schroeder, a Talent and Culture Manager, reminds HR professionals that all work and no play make for high turnover. Because social connections help employees feel a sense of belonging and like they have people at work who care about them, it’s in the best interest of business to build time into work hours for employees to build social connections. Ideally these social connections will happen naturally. But Schroeder notes that sometimes you might need to help the relationships form and flourish with company-sponsored activities like the following:

Introduce your new hires.

When new-hires come on board, introduce them to the team by calling out as many overlapping interests as you can. Point out connections to help the new team member find common ground with existing team members.

Use ice-breakers in team meetings.

Ice-breakers may make some employees groan, but laughing before meetings has been proven to increase ideation and creativity.9 Don’t skip the ice-breaker if you want to help your employees increase their number of shared experiences.

Sponsor open-to-all clubs.

When employees come to you with ideas for company-sponsored groups and clubs, it can be an excellent way to allow grassroots inclusiveness initiatives to take flight — support them.

4. Take employee feedback seriously

Far too many companies treat feedback as a token exercise. Even in cases where HR takes it seriously, it might circulate among members of leadership only to fall to the bottom of the list of priorities before it impacts an organization. Ashley Waldemar, Human Resources Manager,10 thinks this is a huge mistake for companies that want to keep a healthy, low turnover rate.

“If employers want employees to feel like their voices matter, they’ll make room for feedback,” says Waldemar. “Managers should aim to make the most out of employee feedback sessions before someone resigns so they can always be learning what they can do to make their company a better place for employees to be. And your HR team should provide a thorough, in-person exit interview to get to the root of why employees leave and offer a compassionate space for that person to be heard.”

5. Put your people data to work

Feedback isn’t just a one-time box to check off your to-do list. Organizations that are serious about retaining their people make a science of capturing feedback and acting on it through the art of people data. That’s why Mike Kohn, Chief People Experience Officer at Sparkfund,11 tracks organizational and individual team member progress over time to capture accurate snapshots of the health of his company’s culture and overall engagement — which ultimately is a predictor of their turnover.

“We use an engagement survey to gain quantitative data on a quarterly basis that helps us to see where there are potential opportunities for improvement to drive engagement and retention,” says Kohn. “We follow up with our people to get a qualitative perspective that clarifies and expands upon the data, enabling us to take action. For example, based on the feedback, we developed a career framework so that managers and team members have a starting point for career-pathing discussions.”

Maintaining a Healthy, Low Turnover Rate

Don’t let anyone try to tell you that a healthy turnover rate will maintain itself. HR professionals must stay alert to changes in company dynamics and employee behaviors — and constantly work to tweak and troubleshoot your processes and policies to help employees make the choice to stay. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining a low, healthy turnover rate. But there are plenty of best practices you can institute within your company to give employees every opportunity to create the working experience they want with your organization — and to make sure you’re alert to signs of intent to leave before it’s too late.

Citations

1. Source: “Workers Are Quitting Jobs in Record Numbers,” Society for Human Resources Management, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/workers-are-quitting-jobs-record-numbers.aspx
2. Source: “Study: Turnover costs employers $15,000 per worker,” HR Dive, https://www.hrdive.com/news/studyturnover-costs-employers-15000-per-worker/449142/
3. Source: “2017 Human Capital Benchmarking,” Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2017-Human-Capital-Benchmarking.pdf
4. Source: Society for Human Resources 2017 Human Capital Benchmarking Report, https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Documents/2017-Human-Capital-Benchmarking.pdf
5. Source: Interviewed by Glassdoor August 2019
6. Source: “Why Do Workers Quit? The Factors That Predict Employee Turnover,” Glassdoor, https://www.glassdoor.com/research/studies/why-do-workers-quit/
7. Source: “Why People Really Quit Their Jobs,” The Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2018/01/why-people-really-quit-their-jobs
8. Interviewed by Glassdoor August 2019
9. Source: “The Power of Humor in Ideation and Creativity,” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-tao-innovation/201406/the-power-humor-in-ideation-and-creativity
10. Source: Interviewed by Glassdoor August 2019
11. Source: Interviewed by Glassdoor August 2019