Every manager and HR professional views employee turnover as a headache, but do you actually know how expensive and damaging it can be to your organization? Here’s a look at the dimensions of this complex problem and some tested managerial practices to alleviate it with long-term solutions.
The dimensions of the problem
Current statistics from Catalyst show that it costs an average of one-fifth of an employee's salary to replace that person, which means that for a position paying $50,000 a year, your replacement costs will generally run over $10,000. Furthermore, this cost estimate is only an average; replacing more specialized employees can often run into six figures! One Catalyst estimate states that turnover-related costs amount to 12 percent of pre-tax income for a typical company; and these figures don’t begin to describe the internal stress created when someone quits, or the hit your brand can take if a disgruntled departing worker shares their displeasure on social media.
From the employee point of view, it’s important to realize that in 2015, almost 25 percent of American workers left their jobs voluntarily. Moreover, nearly 37 percent stated that they were currently thinking of quitting, even though they hadn’t made the move yet. The root of employee attrition originates in a lack of engagement, so the best approach to protect your company from high employee turnover is to focus on employee engagement. However, despite these alarming figures, nearly 1 in 5 executives still don’t measure their employees’ engagement in any way.
Start at the beginning
Creating a sense of engagement and belonging in your staff begins on the very first day. One-third of all employees know within the first week at a new job whether they will stay with the company for the long term. With this in mind, it is important to focus on the quality and structure of your onboarding process. Your onboarding process should be built with employee retention as one of its primary objectives. The mission and purpose of your organization should be clearly communicated from day one so that your new hires can envision your company as the right fit for their career in the long run.
Build team relationships
Assigning a mentor to new employees helps them integrate into the work culture and feel more welcomed by other team members. The mentor will naturally take an interest in the person to whom they are assigned, and should feel invested in making sure the new employee transitions into their role smoothly. An important thing to remember is that formal mentoring is only a part of the senior employee’s job. They also need to make introductions, share practical knowledge, and help the new employee to feel welcomed as a valued part of the team.
Make room for personal work styles
Providing enough flexibility to allow for various work styles and schedules is also becoming increasingly important to organizations’ employee retention efforts. If you have employees who have expressed an interest in working a slightly adjusted schedule, allowing them to shift their start time a few hours earlier or later builds loyalty and goodwill by letting them know you trust them to enough to be flexible. Harvard Business Review cites an experiment in which half the workers at a travel website were allowed to choose whether they’d like to work from home. After a nine-month trial period, the company found that workers in the at-home group quit at half the rate of those who remained at the office. Furthermore, productivity in the at-home contingent had increased by 13.5 percent. Not every employee prefers to work remotely, but facilitating that opportunity will build your brand’s reputation as being a responsive, caring employer.
Help your employees reach toward the future
Providing your staff with training and development opportunities is also an essential part of any retention strategy. This may seem counter-intuitive if you think that you’re just spending money training your staff for their next career move. But as a matter of fact, training has been statistically linked to retention, and HR consultants point out that their experience bears out these figures. Offering your staff the chance to increase their skills is a form of succession planning: By nurturing your company’s top performers you ensure a home-grown stable of future leaders. It also broadens the extent of your own in-house expertise, potentially saving you money by filling existing gaps in skills. Finally, the challenge of and rewards of learning new skills increase employees satisfaction and actually slows employee turnover.
Engage employees through recognition
Recognizing your employees for the contributions they make is another essential element in any program to increase retention. This basic management truism is all too easy to set aside when the pressure is turned up for higher productivity -- but the price of ignoring employee recognition is far too high to pay. In a SHRM survey of workers who had quit in the first six months of a job, 38 percent said that they might have stayed if they were "recognized for my unique contributions," or if they received more attention from coworkers and managers, or if they had simply been offered a friendly smile.
The solutions to employee turnover are some of the same actions that will strengthen every aspect of your business. When you make internal changes that bring your staff a greater sense of well-being and a feeling of being supported, you’ll not only retain them but also attract top talent and deliver better products and services as a result. To learn more, download our white paper on uniting your workforce with a positive company culture.