by Lorraine Ball
If you have employees, sooner or later you will need to address employee turnover. It is a natural part of owning a business, people will come and go for a variety of reasons. Somethings you can’t control (a spouse is transferred out of state or the employee is recruited by a firm that will pay 1-1/2 times what they make with your firm). The trick in reducing employee turnover is to focus on things you can control.
Improve company culture
One of the best ways to reduced employee turnover is to create an environment where people want to work. Many times it is the little things like remembering to say thank you, empowering people to make decisions, giving them the flexibility to set their own hours, and even occasionally work from home. Look for individual training and personal development opportunities for your team members.
Be selective about who you hire
Take your time, even if it feels like forever, to find people who have the right skill and the right attitude to raise your culture up. The flip side of that is addressing toxic individuals head on. You know the type, kind of like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, but not as lovable. Everything is always bad and never their fault. They seem to thrive on stirring up a little trouble.
I actually asked one of my problem employees a number of years ago if she really wanted the job. My directness took her by surprise and I was able to explain how her energy was bringing the rest of the team down. Once she was aware of how she was being perceived by others, she made changes in her behavior that had a positive impact on the culture.
But sometimes, they can’t change so you need to. It may seem counter intuitive to let someone go or encourage them to transfer to another department when you are struggling to retain employees, but their negative energy may very well be a contributing factor in your employee retention. The longer they stay around, the more people they will drive off.
Take responsibility for your team’s satisfaction
Ask open ended questions and really listen to answers in exit interviews. Have meetings with small groups of employees and build a wish list of changes they would like to see. Be careful to set realistic expectations. Every time I have done this I have been surprised how many simple and easy to implement suggestions surfaced. Seeing their suggestions become reality builds confidence in you as a leader. It will also buy you time to make some of the larger changes too.
Create a structured on-boarding process. Starting a new job is awkward and uncomfortable. Help employees start off on the right foot with a structured process to review procedures and get familiar with all members of the team.
Employee turnover will happen
This is especially true if you hire lots of new grads so be proactive. Have conversations with team members about their career goals, both inside and outside the company. The more open and supportive you are, the more likely they will give you advanced warning when they are ready to move on.
Many of you remember Peter Wolfgram. For almost seven years he sat in the web design seat at Roundpeg. I knew he was reaching the end of his time with us, and broached the subject with him. We talked about his job interviews and he even had a prospective employer call me for a reference while he was still working with us. The open exchange worked for both of us.He felt comfortable spending time on his job search, even as he continued to put his heart and soul into the work he did for Roundpeg and our clients. We were able to talk about the qualifications and skills we would need in a candidate to replace him and he helped document many of his routine task so Britt could slide easily into the role.
Always be recruiting
Even if you don’t have an opening, make sure your job descriptions are up to date and always collect resumes. Things can change quickly and the more prepared you are the less stressful the hiring process will be. Take your time, find the right people, train them correctly and you will be well on your way to reducing employee turnover.