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Are You Experiencing High Turnover? Here’s Why and What To Do About It

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Did you know that 52% of voluntary resignations are avoidable? As the Gallup study that found this states, “People leave because of fixable issues.” This is particularly alarming given the “great resignation” or “turnover tsunami” many leaders and their HR teams are currently facing. With good employees leaving jobs at a higher rate than ever, now isn’t the time to be flippant about high turnover. Instead, people leaders and their HR teams need to work in tandem to identify the causes of turnover and then put actions into place to curb it. Here is an overview of the common causes of high turnover and what you can do about it:

Demanding Workload, High Stress, or Burnout

Over time, job stress, and workload have repeatedly been found to lead to higher turnover intention among employees. Moreover, according to a Workplace Burnout Survey conducted by Deloitte, “84% of millennials say they have experienced burnout at their current job, with half noting they have left a job specifically because they felt burned out.” If you’re wondering what has employees feeling this way, respondents of the same study cited a lack of support or recognition from leadership, unrealistic deadlines or expectations, and consistently working long hours or weekends as the top three causes of burnout at work.

 

What People Leaders Can Do About It

If you don’t want to lose a good employee to workload, stress, or burnout, there are meaningful things you can do to avoid it getting to that point. Set up recurring one-on-one meetings with your employees on a consistent basis. During which time, ask them for an overview of their workload and how they’re honestly feeling/managing it. If you do this regularly enough, you will not only build their trust, thus leading to more honest answers, but will also be able to quickly identify verbal and nonverbal cues that indicate they’re stressed or burning out. This is invaluable not only to your effectiveness as their leader, but to your employee’s outlook on you, their job, and the organization, which could ultimately curb their intention to leave.

Learn what skills you need to excel as a leader in the guide to people  management.

 

Poor Relationship with Their Direct Leader

The popular saying, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bad leaders,” isn’t just catchy - it’s proven time and time again to be true. In one study conducted by Udemy of 1,000 full-time U.S.-based employees, “almost half of the respondents said they have left a job in the past due to poor management. Over half said they felt managers at their company were promoted to positions they weren’t prepared for, and 60% said that managers need more training.”

 

What People Leaders Can Do About It

“Would I want to have me as my boss?” If you’re in a people management position and do not ask yourself this question regularly, then you should. That’s because if you ask yourself this question and the answer is no, you know you could very well have something to do with the turnover you are experiencing on your team. Once you have identified your role in the situation, you are going to want to enroll yourself in a leadership training program or engagement with a professional coach. By doing so, you will gain the skills, perspective, tools, and confidence needed to be the leader your employees want, need, and expect.

 

Stagnation or Lack of Growth Opportunities

In the 2020 Turnover and Retention survey conducted by Catalyst, almost half of the younger employees surveyed were at risk for leaving their company. 35% of respondents cited the reason being not enough advancement opportunities, while another 25% cited a lack of learning and development. Interestingly, a Work Institute report calculated that for every 100 employees who moved their growth and development ratings from fair or poor to excellent, 21 fewer employees would leave in the next year, amounting to $315,000 in savings. In other words, by providing learning and development opportunities to employees, you satisfy their desire to learn, grow, and advance, which in turn can curb high employee turnover and their associated costs.

 

What People Leaders Can Do About It

While promotions are certainly one way to advance, there are plenty of alternative ways to make your employees feel they are advancing without it. If your employee is eager to grow and has untapped potential or passion, then consider granting them more autonomy, offering them a challenging stretch assignment, or delegating them some of your own work. In addition to regular access to training and coaching, these are the types of things that keep employees engaged in their work and motivated to stay at the company.

 

Unsatisfactory Compensation, Benefits, or Perks

Whether you like it or not, an employee’s compensation, benefits, and perks weigh heavily in the decision to stay at a company or leave for another. As Gartner found, 37% of the global labor force left their previous employers due to their compensation. Not to mention, in today’s hyper-competitive labor market, career experts warn job seekers that “staying with a company for more than two years is detrimental to their salary and worth.”

 

What People Leaders Can Do About It

According to SHRM, there are three options organizations have when it comes to fixing unsatisfactory compensation, benefits, and perks at work:

  • Lead the market with respect to compensation and rewards
  • Tailor rewards to individual needs
  • Explicitly link rewards to retention (ex. retention bonuses linked to years of service)

While this might be predetermined, if you want to retain good employees then you need to be willing and ready as a people manager to advocate for your employees. If they are telling you their compensation is not enough and you fear high turnover rates as a result, then it will be up to do what you can to bring it to the attention of either your leaders or HR team. If you do so, you might be able to negotiate a situation that works for both the organization and your employee. 

 

Negative Company Culture

It is difficult and taxing to work on a team or in a company where the culture is negative or toxic. If it gets bad enough, it could very well influence an employee to resign. This was noted in a study conducted by Columbia University, which found that “the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with high company culture is a mere 13.9 percent, whereas the probability of job turnover in low company cultures is 48.4 percent.” In other words, if you haven’t been intentionally investing time, energy, and resources into cultivating a strong culture, then it’s time to.

 

What People Leaders Can Do About It

As a people leader, it’s up to you to take control of the culture on your team or to advocate for a culture change if it is the greater organization in question. It has been found that employees hold their direct leader - more than senior leadership and HR - most responsible for culture. In the case your team is the one with a culture problem, then you are going to need to do the following:

  1. Review your team’s culture and identify where you need to improve, as well as what is going/working well.
  2. Define the team culture you want.
  3. Share your vision with your team to get their buy-in and support.
  4. Implement team culture-building activities.
  5. Reinforce positive behaviors that align with the team culture you are trying to build.

Bear in mind, it takes time to fix a negative team or company culture, so this is not a quick fix when it comes to high employee turnover. 

 

Conclusion

When it comes to high employee turnover, there are always going to be situations out of your control that you cannot see coming or keep from happening. However, many of the most common reasons for high turnover can be influenced to some extent by the employee’s direct leader - which is you! Always remember that you have the greatest impact on an employee compared to anyone else in the workplace. Therefore, the effort you put into managing their workload, reducing their stress, building a healthy working relationship, providing opportunities for growth, providing fair compensation, and building an inclusive team culture, can be the difference between losing and keeping a good employee. 

 

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