The Race to Reduce Turnover
March 1, 2015
Happy employee

Employee turnover is expensive. Here is how you can reduce it by keeping your employees happy.

Like so many other headaches in life the very first step you need to take when you want to reduce turnover is to admit that there’s a problem at all. If your hires are constantly jumping ship the problem may very well not be them, it may be you.

Here’s a test – do you find yourself saying an employee’s leaving is “no big loss” more often than not? If you do there’s one of two things going wrong here.

The first possible problem is that the loss really is no big loss. In this case you may have some serious issues in your hiring practices. Constantly hiring “no loss” employees speaks more about you than about them.

The second possible problem is that talent constantly bailing on you is a loss, and you’re just lying to yourself when you say that losing them isn’t a big deal.

Because it is a big deal if you have constant churn in your ranks. First, your other employees are seeing the best and brightest amongst them abandoning ship, an example they’re going to look to follow.

Second, it costs you a hefty chunk of change to hire in new talent and get them trained up to speed. Training Magazine estimated that it costs over $1,200 in training alone per new employee, never mind the cost of finding the new employee to begin with.

Reduce Turnover, Reduce Costs.

1. Hire The “Big Losses” – If “no big loss” is your mantra, then find the people who are a big loss. This doesn’t mean just finding the best fit for the job, but finding talent that is the best fit for both the job and your company’s culture.

You might have hired a top-drawer accountant, but if your business’ vibe is uber-traditional while the new hire seeks more of a “hip upstart” vibe in their working life they’re going to start feeling suffocated.

Remember, you’re not just pitching the job to your potential hires, you’re pitching your company as a whole.

2. Retask Your Managers – Managing a work group can be akin to herding cats. It gets so much worse when the cats are unhappy with their work environment and are checking the want ads in their off time.

In order to reduce turnover have your managers zero in on a new primary goal – keeping your talent happy. Happy talent is going to be far more focused and eager to contribute. That’s not only good news for your product or service, it also reduces the stress and workload on your manager.

3. Be Competitive – The most obvious answer here is of course to be competitive in pay. But depending on the size of your company sometimes you’re just not going to be able to keep up with the big dogs in your field.

So what else can you offer in place of the big bucks? Get creative.

If your employee base includes a lot of new parents, can you offer some kind of daycare incentive?

If you’re utilizing a lot of fresh graduates consider a student debt contribution program like that offered by Flex395.

Can you offer discounted or group memberships in some outside-of-work venture like a gym, karate lessons, or meditation classes?

Depending on your business, can you offer more work-from-home hours? Or maybe you can offer a 4 day in-house work-week.

Listen to your employees’ wish list. You might not be able to give them everything, but even one or two items from their lists can mean the world to them. Especially if they’re eyeing your competitors and find their workplace practices inflexible.

4. Create a Happy PlaceCreate a work culture that makes people want to show up. It takes so little effort to accomplish, but can have a huge impact in your efforts to reduce turnover.

Recognize achievement. When an employee steps up, make a big deal about them in front of the other employees. Or send an email around detailing how Jane or John just did something incredible for the company, or for a charitable organization that your business sponsors.

You can make this even easier on yourself by giving your employees a chance to “legally” brag a bit. Have them give you a monthly email assessing their contributions. Make it part of your culture where employees point out the good deeds of their fellow workers.

Not only does this let your talent do a little bragging, but it sets subtle milestones for other employees to try to achieve.

5. Be a Part of Their Story

When you first start talking to a potential hire don’t just ask what their long-term goals are; go a step further and find out how you can integrate your company into their dream career path.

It’s going to be much harder for an employee to leave you if you’re an integral part of their achieving what they most want to accomplish. Check in with them every year or half-year and see how they feel they’re progressing, and if there’s anything you could be doing to help them.

It will reduce turnover and put a nice heroic shine on you, a shine that your current employee is going to tell their friends about. You may find the Big Losses are now coming to you, instead of you having to hunt them down.