If many of your employees – more than what’s expected in your line of business – have quit over a short period of time, you may have noticed that this had an immediate impact on practically everything, from a decrease in employee morale to an increase in hiring costs to lost productivity. Additionally, you may have even experienced negative public opinion about your company.
The truth is, high employee turnover kills business. However, it’s entirely preventable, and fortunately there are very actionable steps any company can take to decrease turnover, and increase employee happiness and engagement.
We’ll get into that in a moment, but first, let’s clarify the definition of turnover. Turnover is when an employee leaves a company, either voluntarily because they choose to seek other opportunities, or involuntary due to being fired or laid off. This is different from attrition, which is when an employee leaves for a natural reason like retirement, personal health or through the elimination of a position.
There are, of course, some happy turnovers, like when an employee leaves their position for a promotion within the company. But turnover becomes a problem when a company sees their high performers turning in their notices because they feel like leaving is their only option, or that they no longer want to give their time and energy to the company.
Why Turnover is Bad for Business
Higher than average turnover rates (companies should be shooting for 10% turnover) can have detrimental effects in a number of different areas.
- It costs much less to retain an employee than it does to hire a new one. Between recruiting efforts, hiring and training, it can cost a company twice as much of that former employee’s salary to find a replacement.
- Beyond costs, high employee turnover can put a strain on productivity. To hire a replacement, team members need to take time away from projects to review applications and give interviews. Then, new hires need to be onboarded and gotten up to speed in their new role, which can take time, too. If the employee that left was a key member of the team, productivity may slow or even stop entirely.
- A high turnover rate is a bad signal to future recruits and hiring efforts. If someone is interested in working for your company, but hears there’s essentially a revolving door, they may think twice about applying – which isn’t good for the recruiting pipeline.
- The higher the turnover, the less happy employees are. Because employee turnover is directly correlated to employee satisfaction and engagement, high turnover signals a problem in company culture, which could mean that employees feel disconnected, unheard or stagnant.
- A high turnover takes its toll on employee morale. No one wants to see their colleagues leave out of frustration or lack of opportunities. Turnover creates gaps in teams, and empty cubicles can cause a decrease in morale.
- Businesses with high turnover lose out on revenue generation. This could be through productivity slow-down due to lost team members, rising expenses due to rehiring and retraining, lost incentive due to low morale, lost business due to public perception or all of the above.
Bottom line? High employee turnover is costly. When people leave, there’s a ripple effect that can be felt throughout the company. Lost knowledge, interviewing, recruitment and onboarding costs all add up, and companies simply cannot afford to ignore the long-term implications high employee turnover has on the success of the business.
Why Employees Leave
Why do employees leave in the first place? There are a number of reasons why an employee might exit a company – and all of them are either preventable or manageable.
- They don’t like their manager. It’s been said before that employees don’t leave jobs – they leave managers. A manager has the ability to set the tone of the team, set the pace of work, be receptive or unreceptive to feedback, encourage open communication or no communication, load up or ease an employee’s workload, and the list goes on. One study showed that 77% of employees with bad managers want to exit their job, and soon.
- They’re burnt out. There’s work-related stress, and then there’s burnout, with symptoms like exhaustion, lack of satisfaction from work and even resentment. This could be due to an overload of tasks or responsibilities, not feeling heard or recognized, or being asked to take on responsibilities that they don’t know how to do. A Gallup report found that upwards of two-thirds of employees feel burnt out at work.
- Their job duties don’t match their skills and talents. This could be due to new responsibilities given to the employee because of a reorganization or shift in company goals. This misalignment may have also happened during the hiring process, where job duties weren’t fully articulated or there were miscommunicated expectations. This can lead to dissatisfaction, unfulfillment and burnout.
- There’s a lack of advancement opportunities. If employees don’t see a way to climb the ladder at work – or are not encouraged to – they may exit. Employees have also left because of the lack of opportunities for professional development, like training and class options.
- They’re being overlooked. Those who do good work should be recognized. But employees who leave a company may do so because they’re not being acknowledged for their efforts. Recognition could be as large as a reward program, or as small as a boss sending weekly recognition emails. But employees who leave are likely seeing neither.
- They don’t fit the culture. 32% of employees who left their job within the first 90 days cited cultural fit as a reason. This could be due to a toxic or unfamiliar company culture or simply because they don’t feel the culture is conducive for their best work.
Ultimately, these reasons fall under the umbrella of a lack of employee engagement, or not feeling connected, fulfilled and useful to their work and the workplace.
Lower Turnover Through Employee Training Programs
Most, if not all, employee turnover is preventable if companies know what to address. There are several different strategies companies can take to combat employee turnover, including more job duty alignment, recognition, communication and engagement.
Fortunately, many of these issues can be resolved through implementing an employee training program.
A robust training program can take on a number of different forms, depending on what the company needs, but its main objective is to educate employees in soft and hard skills, which provide a means for personal development and growth in the workplace.
Employee training can include broad company-wide initiatives, like training around diversity and inclusion or sexual harassment. It can also include team-level training around topics like communication, conflict resolution or relationship-building. Employee training programs can be in a group setting with a facilitator, or can be offered through an online learning management system where an employee can learn by themselves at their own pace.
Career Development and Advancement
Employees cite a lack of upward movement, career development and career path opportunities as reasons for leaving a company – and an employee training program fills that gap. Employees can use the training to grow their skills, which can position them for expanded job duties in their current roles, or may open up avenues for advancement in their current companies. Providing an employee training program also signals to employees that their company cares about their development and advancement. 46% of employees who see that their company has training offerings are more likely to stay.
Part of the employee training program can be onboarding so that incoming employees receive a full introduction to the company, the culture, their benefits, their expectations and more. A good onboarding program can boost employee retention, too. 69% of employees are more likely to stay at a company if they receive good onboarding, and 91% of employees who received good onboarding feel more connected to the company.
Training for Managers
If the main reason employees leave is because of their manager’s poor managing style, consider implementing employee training for managers, especially those whose teams have high turnover. An employee training program can help managers with soft skills like communication, how to give and receive feedback, how to lead team meetings and more. Additionally, training can give managers tools on how to hire better recruits for their team and the culture.
Increase Engagement Overall
Employee training programs increase employee engagement, which is the ultimate goal for combating employee turnover. Employees are more satisfied when they have the skills and knowledge to contribute to their roles, and if an employee feels like they’re contributing and that they’re a meaningful part of the team, engagement goes up. In fact, a highly engaged workforce can reduce turnover by upwards of 59%.
Where to Start
A certain amount of turnover is expected in any business. But if you’re seeing turnover creeping up at your company, know that there are ways you can combat it. Start with an employee training program to increase employee engagement, widen opportunities for advancement, better onboard new hires and signal to employees that you want them to stay.