Consulting

Five Reasons for High Employee Turnover — And How to Deal With It

May. 29th, 2018

Today’s blog comes from Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Lefton, here with thoughts about employee turnover.

When your organization experiences a high degree of employee turnover, there are a couple of things to consider.

Two Questions to Consider

First, what sort of employee turnover are you dealing with? Don’t just look at turnover as a singular occurrence. Break it down into different categories, then focus on those segments that are particularly problematic for your organization. Categories may include:

  • Voluntary turnover. Some employees will leave due to life changes, such as retirement. Such turnover is inevitable — but the good news is, you can plan for it.
  • Involuntary turnover. This isn’t always a bad thing — for instance, if the departing employee was a poor performer, or a poor fit with your culture. But involuntary turnover of good performers — particularly high-potentials — should be cause for concern.

Second, turnover happens for a variety of reasons; don’t assume you understand why employees are leaving. Employee attitude surveys and exit interviews can help you figure out why employees are leaving. Once you understand employee motivation, you’re better positioned to address turnover.

Five Common Employee Turnover Issues — And How to Answer Them

Here are five reasons for turnover that we commonly see, and some suggestions for addressing them.

  1. Employees who feel overloaded with work — stressed out, with not enough personal/recreation time. 
    • Implement measures to improve work-life balance.
    • Add social activities to boost employee morale.
    • Explore ways to reallocate work, or to make the workload more manageable.
  2. Employees who believe the organization lacks advancement opportunities and seek better prospects elsewhere.
    • Commit to a policy of promoting from within, where possible.
    • Communicate that policy throughout the organization by improving internal job postings.
    • Consider increasing employee engagement through job rotations, mentoring, special assignments, and action learning.
    • Initiate individual development plans for all employees.
    • Suggest a variety of development options for the competencies an employee wants to improve upon.
  3. Employees who dislike their boss. 
    • Train supervisors in people skills like communication, listening, and resolving conflict.
    • Use 360° surveys to provide feedback in how supervisors really come across to their direct reports — and how they can be more effective.
    • Consider executive coaching for the boss, or coaching direct reports on how to work with others more effectively.
  4. Employees who dislike the work they do and the assignments they get.
    • Learn more about what employees like/dislike. Can their work be altered to make it more enjoyable for them?
    • Think about stretch assignments, job rotation, international placements — ways to get employees excited about work.
    • Implement career planning, and help your employees build a plan toward more fulfilling work.
  5. Employees who are displeased with their compensation.
    • Research salary levels to see if your organization’s pay is appropriate.
    • Clarify the organization’s pay philosophy: Do you pay at the low end? Average? At the high end? Why?
    • Better understand employee concerns related to compensation. Are they dissatisfied with their wages? The benefits plan? Their bonus — or lack thereof? Better understanding can help you find solutions that are workable for the organization.

Thanks to William Rothwell’s excellent book, Effective Succession Planning, for inspiring many of the thoughts in this post.