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What Are the Best Tips for Reducing Employee Turnover?

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  • Written By: Sandi Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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Reducing employee turnover is a primary goal for almost every human resource professional. By reducing employee turnover, organizations save money on recruitment and training, as well as encouraging a stable, experienced workforce. Efforts to increase employee retention start with improving the recruitment and training process, but continue on to providing challenging, interesting work, a cooperative work environment, and comparable compensation programs. Additional factors that contribute to reducing employee turnover include opportunities for professional growth, additional training, and organizational stability.

Turnover is understood by human resource professionals to be the rate at which an organization's workforce terminates employment and requires replacement employees. In other words, employee turnover is the ratio of vacated and refilled job positions compared to the total workforce of the organization. Certain industries, such as food and beverage, janitorial, and retail, have statistically higher employee turnover rates than others. High turnover rates in such industries typically relate to low pay, a young workforce, high stress, and poor opportunity for advancement.

Improving or reducing employee turnover first requires assessing the reasons why employees leave. Increasing pay rates, for example, may not reduce turnover if the majority of employees leave because of poor work conditions or lack of opportunity. The best tip for reducing employee turnover then is to first determine its cause. Absenteeism rates, productivity levels, and employee complaints are a good place to start when evaluating the reasons behind high turnover. Personal interviews, especially for exiting employees, provides additional insight.

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Changes in recruitment and employee training programs can also lead to reducing employee turnover. When candidates are better suited to a particular job role, whether by virtue of past work experience, personality traits, or future career plans, turnover rates are typically not as high. Proper training to prepare candidates for new job roles likewise lessens turnover. Additional training throughout an employee's tenure provides opportunities for professional growth the employee would otherwise need to fund out of pocket, which can increase loyalty and retention. Cross-training employees for additional responsibilities likewise increases each employee's perceived value, as well as providing opportunities for new and interesting challenges.

Organizational culture is also an important factor in reducing employee turnover. Cooperative environments, team work, supportive supervisors, and clear communication of expectations all contribute to a stable, encouraging organizational culture. Studies show that organizational culture and workplace environments are two of the most often cited reasons why employees choose to leave a particular job position. Employees who feel empowered, supported, and valued typically report a higher sense of job satisfaction and, therefore, are less likely to pursue other employment opportunities. As such, instigating changes in managerial hierarchy, employee accountability, establishing open door policies, and similar efforts that bring employees into key decision-making roles typically reduce turnover.

Numerous studies regarding employee turnover and job satisfaction place compensation and benefits far below other factors that contribute to turnover. Although most employees report workplace environments, personal motivation, and challenging opportunities as more important than compensation, it can be a factor in reducing employee turnover. If an organization's base pay and benefit package is not in line with other organizations in the same industry, employees will leave to pursue better opportunities. Periodic review of common industry practices regarding pay and benefits ensures an organization remains competitive and loses fewer employees.

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Grivusangel
Post 5

@Lostnfound: Glad you have a new boss now, and that the situation has improved. What a miserable way to spend that many years. And no help from HR or anything. Wow.

Still, glad to know your circumstances are much better than they were.

Lostnfound
Post 4

@Grivusangel: It is better now, thanks for asking. My old boss retired three years ago and the new boss is much better. He's really laid back and while he's kind of feisty, you can come back at him and he doesn't take it personally. What a relief!

HR was no help. We're a small company and didn't really have an HR department, per se. Filing a complaint didn't do much unless the threat of a lawsuit was behind it, which is just disgusting.

I caught the crap sometimes, until I very quietly told him that my dad didn't talk to my mother like that, or to me and my sister like that, and no one was going to talk to

me like that -- period. That helped a lot. But it was still a tense environment most of the time. Believe it or not, the birth of his grandchildren did more to mellow him than anything else.

He was like that, I think, because he was a complete control freak and had to have everyone under his thumb. The advent of the grandkids really helped, though.

Grivusangel
Post 3

@Lostnfound: Wow. That's awful about the environment in your office. I hope it's better now! How did you stand it for 21 years? Gosh. I don't know what I would have done in that kind of situation. Was the verbal abuse ever directed at you? What was the manager's problem, anyway? Could he or she just not control their temper, or what? Would the next level supervisor not address the problem? What about HR? Could anyone file a complaint? It's terrible that people are subjected to this kind of treatment!

Lostnfound
Post 2

@Grivusnagel: So true! I'd also add office environments that tolerate what amounts to verbal abuse to employees are bound to have heavy turnover. I've managed to hang on where I work for 21 years, but I've heard supervisors say awful things to employees, and as a result, we've lost some great people. It's bad when management can't see how their actions affect the morale of the workplace, and cause people to leave.

It's even worse when these managers take a "Grow up and don't be so thin skinned" attitude rather than face the possibility their actions and bad decisions caused the problems to start with.

Grivusangel
Post 1

These are all excellent points, but I'd say it all comes down to whether the employees feel the company gives a crap about them. Do they have a good pay/benefits package? Do they offer a reasonable number of sick and vacation days? Can an employee request vacation time without having to beg the boss for it? Are employees actually thanked by their supervisors for doing a good job? Are they recognized for their hard work and do they feel appreciated? If a family crisis comes up, is the company flexible about allowing the employee to take time off and/or work from home?

These may sound like simple things, but they occur in every person's working life, and companies need to be sensitive to these situations. If they are, then the employee turnover is going to be much lower than it is at similar businesses.

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