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How can I reduce staff turnover?

How can I reduce staff turnover?

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You've put a lot of effort into getting the right mix of people in your business and the last thing you want them to do is leave.

Recruiting is generally an expensive and time consuming process so the more you can do to keep the staff you have the better.

Types of turnover
Spotting the trends of when employees leave your company will help you understand why they leave and make efforts to prevent it happening in future

  • Seasonal turnover – where you regularly see employees leaving at certain times of the year, such as after a busy sales period. This is often connected to employees who have salaries that are mainly commission based as they will look to follow environments and markets where they can maintain money making opportunities.
  • Responsibility turnover – sometimes you can get into an employment cycle where once employees have established themselves in their job, they decide it's time to move on as there is no next step for them to take in the organisation.
  • Mass exodus – the worst case scenario for a business, when a large number of employees decide to hand in their notice at the same time. This could be down to a new manager that the team doesn't get on with, a dispute on wages with a union, or stories in the media about potential financial trouble in your industry.

Minimising exits
Many of these factors are out of your control, but there are certain practices you can put in place to try and minimise staff turnover.

  • Improving recruitment – are you hiring people for now or for the future? Look to employ people who are flexible who can meet the changing needs of the business over time.
  • Communicating with employees – there's nothing that makes people feel more uncomfortable than an air of secrecy around the business. Be open with your employees, share your vision of the future and let them know how they fit into the overall goals.
  • Listening to employees – encourage your employees to form a committee that can discuss the issues that matter to them and have representatives who can come to the management team. You won't be able to take on all their suggestions, but it's important to at least give them your full consideration. You should also look to run anonymous surveys to get the ‘real' feelings of your employees.
  • Increasing benefits – salary increases are always welcome by employees, but there are plenty of other things you can do you improve the general workplace morale. Try and relate these to the issues you think your company is having, for example, if you get the feeling that work-life balance may be an issue in retention rates, offer all employees and extra day of annual leave.
  • Offering praise – regularly let your employees know they are valued members of the organisation. This could be accomplished by running an ‘Employee of the Week' competition or by increasing the incentives on offer for hitting targets. Be careful to spread this praise around equally otherwise your staff may become resentful towards a select few.
  • Staff training and development – regular development plans show your employees that you are thinking about their future. Ensure your managers are partaking in regular 1-2-1 meeting with their team members to discuss how they feel about their job, their future, and their general feeling about the working environment.
  • Social events – the most successful businesses are often the ones where there is a good level of camaraderie between colleagues. There is a fine line between providing opportunities for your employees to connect outside the workplace and ‘forced fun', but getting employees involved in the planning process will help to create events they genuinely want to attend.

Reacting when needed
As well as regular turnover that is somewhat predictable and preventable, you will have the occasional unexpected resignation that can rock the business. This is where your negotiation skills come into play. As soon as someone has made a decision to leave it's often best to just let them go, but if you feel they are indispensable to the business you should pull out all the stops to keep them.

Firstly find out from them why they want to move on. Are they going for a new opportunity that is too good to turn down? Is it purely for the money? Are they quitting work altogether to take on charity work in Africa ? You need to analyse their reasons and work out what you can do to change their mind.

If you're not successful in persuading them to stay, make sure you hold an exit interview with everyone who leaves the company. You will be able to get some frank and honest opinion on how your business operates and you may discover something that you can change to prevent further losses.

Rather than reducing staff turnover, there are occasions when you will want to encourage staff to leave. If you've had the same people in a department for many years and there are now a lack of fresh ideas coming out of the team, maybe it's time to get some fresh blood in there. But what can you do if there is no room in the budget to bring in a new employee?

Obviously you don't want to get into the murky water of constructive dismissal, however there are certain things you can do to make people feel like their time is up. Rather than taking away responsibility, allocate new work to someone else. People can get very bored very quickly when their job starts to become stale.

Discuss this issue on The Employer Forum.