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on April 07, 2017 Engagement

4 Core Steps towards Decreasing Employee Turnover

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Employee Turnover is often considered bad news. Though employee departure is a necessary occurrence in healthy organizations, we need to make sure that employees are departing for the right reasons.

When fostering a culture of continuous development, it’s important to recognize that some employees are meant to move on from your organization in order to fully develop — perhaps by starting their own companies, moving overseas, or changing their career path altogether. However, too often do our employees turnover for the wrong reasons.

Unhealthy employee turnover is costly, can give your company a bad rep, and is highly contagious. Even a seemingly small burst of employee exits can encourage more of your staff to follow suit, jumping ship alongside their peers.

Reported as the #1 challenge faced by Human Resource teams, employee turnover is an issue to be addressed with thoughtful, strategic, actionable tactics.

So what should be at the core of your employee retention strategy?

It all starts with designing an Employee Experience that encourages your employees to stay, grow, and succeed within your organization. Here are 4 core steps your People team can take to decrease employee turnover.

1. Correct what’s not right.

We all know the importance of hiring the right candidates. Throughout the interview process, a candidate’s qualifications, experience, and ability to fit into company culture are all assessed. But things aren’t always as they seem, and candidates don’t always turn out to be the promising employee you met in the interview. A big step in reducing employee turnover is realizing when you’ve made the wrong hire, and doing something about it.

Ignoring the problem and keeping bad hires in their roles, poses a threat of employee turnover. Not only will your business performance experience the negative effects of a bad hire, but a poor fit can interrupt the Employee Experience of their peers — and that interruption can lead to turnover amongst your great fits. How?

A bad hire doesn’t perform well, harms the company culture, and does not collaborate effectively with teammates. This can cause your other employees to grow unhappy, frustrated, and more likely to turnover in the long run.

Highly successful organizations understand the importance of weaving out bad hires. Amazon, a leader in Employee Experience, believes that it’s more costly to hold onto bad hires than to hand over a few grand for their departure — offering to pay its employees up to $5,000 to quit if they feel they aren’t a good fit.

While this pricey tactic isn’t an option for most companies, there are other measures People teams and managers can take to identify bad hires early-on. Employee onboarding is the perfect opportunity to track and analyze a new hire’s ability to achieve goals, fit into company culture, and work with peers.

By the end of a 90 day onboarding program, you should understand whether a new hire is a good hire, as measured by the way new employees achieve their 30, 60, and 90 day onboarding goals. If new hires don’t meet these goals, don’t show improvement, don’t fit into company culture, and don’t work well with their teams, it’s better to take action after 90 days rather than endure the poor performance and company of a bad hire.

To decrease employee turnover, don't hold onto a bad hire.

2. Foster a culture of open communication.

When employees decide to quit, it’s often the first time they’re communicating their workplace concerns. This lack of open communication means an employer isn’t given the chance to correct existing issues before being handed an employee’s notice.

A crucial part of reducing turnover is effectively and openly communicating with employees. Finding out how employees feel at work, measuring their engagement, and understanding how they view the company, are all necessary ingredients in improving employee retention.  

Feedback and communication go hand-in-hand, and are both essential throughout the entire employee lifecycle. A culture of transparency will give employees the chance to voice their concerns as they arise, rather than silently endure their problems until they decide to quit.

Depending on your company’s size, there are different internal communication strategies that might work best for your organization, such as:

  • An open door policy
  • Internal newsletters
  • Weekly team meetings
  • Weekly one-on-ones
  • Monthly team events
  • Quarterly all-hands meetings

To encourage employees to stay with your organization, make them feel like they’re a part of something important. Keep employees aligned with your mission, vision, and values, through ongoing communication and a transparent Employee Experience. 

To reduce employee turnover, foster a culture of open communication.

3. Develop your employees.

87% of Millennials — the largest share of workers in the US — report professional development or career growth opportunities as very important in a career. If you’re not catering to your employees’ values, you’re giving them a reason to leave.

Forward-thinking companies understand the value of learning. Thriving tech company, TripleLift, invests in learning and development by holding a weekly “Tech Trek”, in which employees teach their peers about new projects they’re currently working on. This weekly session creates a safe peer-to-peer learning environment  — tying in two core retention steps of communication and development.

In any organization, opportunities for growth are everywhere. While you can’t promote your entire workforce, you can always offer education opportunities, lateral moves, job rotations, or cross-training. Exposing employees to different parts of your organization gives them a chance to gain valuable insight and experience throughout multiple sides of the business.

An employee development plan should be in place for every single employee in your organization, giving them say in their own career path so they can visualize their internal growth. Without internal development, employees will ultimately seek their learning and development opportunities externally.

87% of Millennials report professional development or career growth opportunities as very important in a career.

4. Recognize and reward effort and success.

Research has shown that companies with recognition programs that improve employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover. Yet a study by the US Bureau of Labor shows that only 29% of US employees feel valued in their jobs.

No one wants to feel like they’re slaving away and no one is noticing. Let employees know that you’re aware and appreciative of their work. To reduce turnover, your employees must understand that you value them as a part of your team and are grateful for the contributions they make.

Successful organizations invest in a recognition-rich culture. Tom Mendoza, Vice Chairman at NetApp - a company that has topped multiple Best Places to Work lists - has said, “I think people want to be at a place where they feel respected, appreciated and the company is trying to do something special.”

So how does NetApp make its employees feel appreciated? Mendoza personally calls NetApp employees on a daily basis who are “caught doing something right” — the ultimate form recognition!

But recognition shouldn’t just come from managers or execs. Purpose-built technology, like Bonusly, can help you embed peer-to-peer recognition into your company culture. With regular acknowledgement for effort and achievements, employees will become more engaged, and less likely to leave your organization.

Reducing turnover through recognition also means recognizing employees when they’re not succeeding. Employees want and require some level of guidance, so when they don’t succeed, address the failure and work alongside them to learn, grow, and move past it. Recognizing and addressing shortfalls is also a great way to make employees feel like they’re learning and developing within their organization.

Recognition programs ultimately led to 31% lower voluntary turnover.

Strengthening the Employee Experience is an elemental step in decreasing employee turnover. Give employees a reason to stay with your organization by taking these core steps towards their success, engagement, and growth.

Want to learn how Sapling’s onboarding solution can help deliver an excellent Employee Experience to your teams? Download Sapling’s Essential Guide to Employee Onboarding Success or sign up for a product demo below.
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Jeni Fahy

Jeni Fahy is a contributing author at Sapling, a culture-first organization helping People Ops leaders deliver employee experience programs with consistency, visibility, and analytics. If you’re interested in enhancing your employee experience with strategic employee onboarding, schedule a demo with the Sapling team.