Revolving Door? How To Reverse High Turnover At Your Workplace
There is a lot of coming and going at some workplaces—especially for women.
High turnover means more necessary transitions and more reliance on employees who stay to fill in gaps. It also can be costly. Data shows turnover rates are higher for women as women leave more often for many reasons.
In a new Payscale report on why people leave their jobs, they found, “Unemployment rates are low and the economy is currently strong. This environment increases workers’ confidence levels and promotes more risk-taking. In February 2019 alone, 2.86 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
The study showed women quit more often and “are also 11 percent more likely than men to quit for more flexibility.”
PayScale Chief Economist Katie Bardaro says, “The search for more pay is a very strong driver for employees who are considering leaving, but the most interesting part of the research shows that once employees decide to leave, they also want a more fulfilling job. So, for employers looking to retain and attract the best talent, they not only need to get pay right, but must also demonstrate to employees how they will provide them with work that is ultimately meaningful.”
ADP research Institute’s “2019 State of The Workforce Report” shows that the average monthly turnover rate for women is 3.5 percent—with 2 percent leaving voluntarily for personal reasons, another job, promotion, advancement, education or retirement. Just 1.4 percent are terminated and considered involuntary. Men have a monthly turnover rate of 3 percent, with 1.7 percent of those exits as voluntary.
Twenty percent of all firms in this study have a turnover rate of four percent or higher. The turnover rate is highest in transportation and utilities fields, at five percent.
Sure, it’s natural for people to want to move up and expand their careers for better opportunities, but if every year there are new and different faces at the company holiday party, then the culture may not be a welcoming one where employees feel they want to stay. As a leader, that’s a problem.
Forbes reports that “a survey from Willis Tower Watson found that one in three hires will leave a company within two years, you see how quickly this can add up.”
In addition to the costs of recruiting, hiring, possibly relocating, onboarding and training the new employee, the cost to those who stay can be high.
“There are also some additional hidden costs associated with employee turnover that can harm the workplace. For starters, you’re asking your best employees — who are likely already working at full capacity — to either take on additional tasks that the departed employee was responsible for or to show the new hire the ropes,” writes John Hall in Forbes.
“It can also do serious damage to morale. If the former employee was close to people who stuck around, they may no longer have a friend at work and become sad or resentful. Others may begin to question whether they should also jump ship,” Hall writes.
According to “The Cost of High Employee Turnover,” recruiters are also expensive.
“One study calculated that it takes between six and nine months of a salaried employee’s pay to fill the breach, (of an exited employee) while others believe it can be twice the annual salary of such an employee,” according to MedCity News. Still another study broke it down according to where workers stood in the pecking order, noting that the cost of replacing someone in a low-paying job ran to 16 percent of that person’s salary, and put that total at 20 percent for a mid-range job and a whopping 213 percent for someone at the executive level.”
If turnover is high, you may have inadvertently fostered a toxic workplace and need to figure out the factors in each exit.
How can you be the leader who builds and retains a cohesive team?
Anne. M. Obarski, retail expert, tells Abby Heugel at Casual Living, “Great employees are not born, they are developed in a business atmosphere where training is stressed, individuality is encouraged and personalities are respected. The key to retaining high quality employees is promoting and possessing a positive work environment no matter how large or small you are.”
Getting to that point needs to be deliberate for managers and leaders.
“Understand why turnover is happening in the first place,” writes Greg Montesano, owner of The Prevailing Group, in CleanLink. “If you’re not taking the time to understand why people are leaving, which could be done via an exit interview, you’ll just continue to mindlessly push a revolving door and ‘hope’ that you gain some stability at some point. Compile those results – its data that can be acted on to reverse the trend.”
Heugel continues, “According to Willis Towers Watson, more than 70 percent of high-risk retention employees believe that they have to leave their organization to advance their careers. It’s key that you have regular discussions about opportunities within your organization, make a concerted effort to promote from within the business and consider offering employees programs so they can learn new skills.”
You can also practice listening.
Researchers at University of Michigan, University of Hawaii and Boston College report in Harvard Business Review that giving workers an opportunity for feedback can keep them working there.
“In a context where turnover is high and workers do not typically have many opportunities to communicate their concerns to management, providing workers with voice can be a simple yet powerful way to keep workers from quitting. Of course, the most sustainable solution to worker dissatisfaction is creating actual change in managerial decision-making, enabling voice to have not only an intrinsic but also an instrumental role in improving workers’ employment experiences,” they write.
As a leader, make sure each team member knows that you are concerned holistically about the employee, not just the portion of that person’s time that is as your employee.
Armando Lopez, executive director of human resources at Ramsey Solutions, a Nashville company with the lowest turnover rate of any company of its size in the country, tells Inc.: “Loyalty is not placed to the company who only cares about the 8-to-5 person. The new loyalty, engagement, and discretionary effort are given to the organizations that care about the whole person. Those are the organizations that will win moving forward.”
Sometimes leaving a job is the best thing for a person. Job hopping is not considered to be a good trait, but advancing yourself is. If you have learned all you can and you have communicated that you feel you are at a dead end, then staying is not the best choice.
As a leader, understanding the goals of your team and acknowledging that women in particular will leave at a higher rate for advancement, can push you to initiate strategies to have a higher retention rate.
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com