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October 1, 2014 | Industry | Posted by Adam Bobay Adam Bobay

15 Potent Ways to Confront Employee Turnover

As the economy recovers, employers are beginning to see more employees leaving again. According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, in the professional services industry over 53.4% of employee turnover was voluntary during the last four months (vs. 38% in 2009). With the economy improving and the emergence of “Free Agent Nation” and Gen Y, managing turnover is becoming priority for every firm and business.

We’ve come up with common causes of employee turnover and 15 potent ways to confront it.

“It Wasn’t A Good Fit”

Every business (especially small businesses) have their own distinct culture.  It seems more and more hiring decisions are based on “personality” fit as they are on “performance” fit to avoid disrupting overall company culture.

Here are some things to keep in mind when meeting with the next potential new hire to avoid hiring the wrong fit:

Hire the right people from the start

Identify the major themes of your business environment, traits of employees, and the character profiles of your top performers. Once these are identified, use them as leading indicators for the “type” of person you’re looking for. Remember many “fit” hires have a lot to do with attitude and personality and less to do with types of skill or background. Remember, you don’t have to sacrifice diversity when hiring for people to fit your company culture.

Open Book Management

Open communication about the status of finances and sales gives employees a sense of working towards a common goal and feeling ownership over results no matter the department they may work in. New Belgium Brewing Company is a great example of a company owning this ethos over the last decade, and it’s difficult to argue with their results.

Salary and Benefits

There are plenty of studies which show monetary compensation is not a primary driver of employee satisfaction, performance, or engagement. While there is a requisite amount of compensation for each position, “throwing money at the problem” isn’t sustainable long-term for any employer and employee relationship. Here are some things to keep in mind in regards to salary and benefits:

Stay Up To Date:

Keep up to date with current benefit trends within your industry – this report by the Society of Human Resources gives great insight into current trends.

Show Appreciation:

This study by MIT shows that the less we feel appreciated at work, the more pay we want in return. Providing constructive feedback, positive reinforcement, and appreciation can go a long way in the fight against rising wages and employee turnover.

Poor Working Environment

Patrick Hull pointed out in Forbes, that a positive work environment proved to be a key factor in the success of a startup. The goal is to create a place that is enjoyable and makes employees want to come to each day.

Create a Welcoming Atmosphere

Throw out standard ‘norms’ (like the office cubical) that have become outdated and misused. In today’s work environment collaboration, self-initiated privacy, and relaxing break areas provide employees everything they need throughout the workday.

Have Clear Expectations

Treat employees like adults by giving them clear expectations and letting them meet those expectations how they best see fit. Motivate employees by giving them the trust they deserve for meeting those expectations.

Provide Opportunities to Learn and Grow

Incentivizing employees to constantly learn and grow gives them the confidence (and ability) to take on harder projects and seek higher goals.

For some more great ideas check out a post from The Harvard Business Review wrote about 12 attributes of a truly great workplace.

Little To No Flexibilty

The current generation of employees are looking for work/life balance. Boston College conducted a study on Job Flexibility that identified 76% of employees and 80% of Managers indicated flexible hours had positive effects on retention.

According to a SHRM study, 63% of companies now allow for telecommuting, nearly twice as many than did in 2005. With companies identifying flexibility as a top priority, it’s more important than ever for companies to stop telling about their “work/life balance” and start showing.

Flexible Time and Place

Give employees flexibility of when and where they can work. Is it really necessary to mandate employees who do the majority of their business via phone and internet to be in the office? Giving employees the option to telecommute helps with their busy schedules and allows a positive work/life balance. It also reinforces the trust you have for them to perform their necessary tasks without oversight.

If a clearly defined set of goals are agreed upon to monitor the progress and ensure their work is still getting done, what is there to lose?

Choices in Managing Time

Giving employees the option of how their time at work is spent provides a sense of trust in their ability to manage their own time. By deciding what needs to be done at what times employees can take breaks when they are needed are more likely to be more productive.

If you have to constantly worry about managing your employees, you should reconsider your hiring principles. Back to #1!

When Your Employees Take Time Off, Reinforce That They Shouldn’t Be Working

From our own experience working for large corporate entities it was a common understanding that “taking time off” was often worse than not taking time off. Many were expected to still get their work done on vacation, never allowing for any breaks to be taken in the first place. In many cases vacation ended up being more stressful than just sticking around the office.

Meeting short-term deadlines is one thing, but if you truly want your employees to remain fresh, asking them to work when they should be vacationing is not a sustainable strategy for long-term retention.

Lack of Challenge

Finding meaning at work and being happy are two different things, and it turns out that meaning is more important. Increasing an employee’s sense of meaning is one of the most potent and underutilized ways to increase productivity, engagement and performance.

Give Them Big Picture “Why”

An incredible Ted Talk by Simon Senik called “Start with Why” lists out why people buy certain products (Apple being the example). This concept can be applied to employees as well. When they are given the “why” they are doing a project and what the ultimate goal is, it opens the door for more creativity, more challenge and ultimately more meaning. 

Foster Meaningful Relationships

The same way coaches encompass team building exercises to build relationships within sport, building relationships at work creates more engagement. This engagement drives employees to actively give their best performance, not because they are passionate about what they do, but they’re passionate about their ‘teammates’ for which they are doing it.

Intentionally engage in daily conversations, and push for outside, non-work related gatherings to build these relationships. Not only do employees develop this passion, they also combine their lives inside and oustide of the office with the people they consider close friends. It’s much harder to leave when you’ve developed tight bonds with the people you work with.

Challenge Them to Learn and Grow

Add on challenging projects with the less glamorous responsibilities that are geared towards individual talents or passions. As Forbes puts it, anyone can put information into a spreadsheet, but balancing that with a challenging task makes them use the unique skills that they have to making employees feel indispensable.

Reduce Boredom

Employees that are under taxed (from their job, not the government), can easily get bored and restless. This is a psychological phenomenon that is frequently seen in underachieving students. When someone needs to challenge their mind, stress levels increase because of underutilization of the brain.

Poor or Little to No Feedback

Reviews are feedback, but feedback is not (and should not be) confined to only “reviews.”

Overall employees feel reviews are inaccurate and misrepresented, feedback on the other hand, is seen as a necessity. How well would someone be able to drive a car if they were only provided snapshots of the road every quarter-mile vs real time feedback. Employee feedback uses the same logic. By giving feedback constantly and outside of formal reviews allows for employees to be more productive and improve overall performance.

Feedback on Performance

Performance related feedback opens communication in a way that reinforces employees’ understanding of how their work has an impact on the bigger picture. It also gives them motivation and purpose outside of quarterly reviews.

What other strategies or problems have you come across? We’d love to hear from you so let us know in the comments section below!

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Written by

Adam Bobay

Adam Bobay

Adam is a marketing intern at Sqrl. He's a curiosity enthusiast and never turns down a challenge. He also enjoys tinkering with DIY projects, all things video and photography, and the occasional daily donut.