Employee turnover is a major concern of businesses of all size. Online magazine, Employee Benefits News, reported that that turnover can cost the business 33 per cent of an employee’s annual salary. Multiply this by a revolving door of employee resignations then it spells trouble for the business. In the long run, it is the interests of businesses to ensure retention of its critical staff. This article will seek to look at both sides of the coin i.e. -
- what are the push factors for employees leaving and
- what can be done to increase the tenure of employees?
By definition, employee turnover is the loss of talent in the workforce over time. This includes any employee departure, including resignations, layoffs, terminations, retirements, location transfers, or even deaths.
Employee turnover can also be expressed as a ratio and is usually calculated for a company yearly, so it would be the number of employees who left during the entire year divided by the total number of employees at the beginning of the year.
High employee turnover is very costly for businesses on multiple fronts. In terms of the financial aspects, there are considerable costs that are attached to the hiring process. Hiring costs may include;
- Fees paid to outside recruiters
- Advertising costs
- Interview costs
- Relocation expenses for the prospective employee and their family
Turnover costs are not only limited to the financial aspects but can also start eating into the effective continuity of operations. It takes between 8-12 weeks to replace a knowledgeable worker, and then another month or two before the replacement gets to full productivity mode (Growthforce, 2019). This means that businesses will potentially not be operating at full capacity until such a time. Other potential hidden costs that come with training new employees to include;
Potential hidden costs of training new employees include:
- Administrative and onboarding paperwork time
- New employees being trained and then leaving a job in six months or less
- Supplies for new employees
- More supervision needed New employees often need more attention from managers, which takes higher-paid managers away from their other work
Many companies spend a sizeable amount of time and money investigating the causes of employee turnover. A common research method being that of an exit interview. Usually, the intent behind such studies is to find out why people leave—the idea being that if a company can identify the reasons for terminations, it can work to hold terminations, and turnover, down. Some of the most recurrent reasons are;
Sour Relationship with Managers
More than half of all resignations from a survey done by The HR Director (2019) credited sour relationships with management as the reason for termination. This cycle will be likely to continue when communication is only freely flowing in one direction. One of the most common reasons for frustration with one's manager is a consistent lack of feedback and coaching. This lack of guidance places stresses on employees who in turn do not feel as if their work is valuable.
Lack of Trust in the Organization
Research shows that only 39 per cent of employees trust that their senior management has their best interest interests at heart. This mistrust may often be credited to outdated policies used without evaluation. Many employees do not feel as if they have a safe avenue to suggest alternatives to procedures or believe their opinion matters.
Low Prospects of advancement
The lack of opportunity for growth or advancement is one of the leading causes of employee dissatisfaction. Employers must recognize signs that their employees might be frustrated by a lack of opportunities. If a person feels the only way to move up and progress in their career is to look outside of the company, they will. They will not feel trapped in a position if they have the opportunity to learn and grow their professional lives.
Job Doesn't Match Description
A large percentage of turnover happens in the first six months. This mainly comes down to the job that was agreed upon not reflecting the work assigned. When the role is not as promised, an employee breeds distrust of the employer.
Given the number of downsides to high turnover rates, what can companies do to retain employees? Employee retention is a phenomenon where employees choose to stay on with their current company and don’t actively seek other job prospects. Every company and industry has a varying retention rate, but a company risks losing its star performers if it does not actively know pull factors.
In a competitive hiring climate, employee retention can often be a challenge. Some organisations make the assumption is that employees stay solely for money and they focus efforts solely on remuneration and benefits as a strategy.
Benefits and perks play a large role in keeping employees happy, engaged and healthy. But disproportionality focusing on the remuneration alone can lead to a situation referred to as a “golden handcuff’. Golden handcuffs are a collection of financial incentives that are intended to encourage employees to remain with a company for a stipulated period. Golden handcuffs are offered by employers to existing key employees as a means of holding onto them as well as to increase employee retention rates. Golden handcuffs are common in industries where highly-compensated employees are likely to move from one company to another. Whilst this can be an effective strategy, it can sometimes go wrong in the sense that employees can feel trapped in a position. The employee could be genuinely unhappy but end up staying for the money and have low levels of engagement with the organisation.
The question is then, besides the money what other factors make employees stay with an employer?
A report released by professional networking giant LinkedIn in 2018, the Workforce Learning Report, found that over 90% of employees would be interested in increasing their tenure with an organisation if the said organisation invested in their professional development.
Training and development is no longer an optional perk or reserved for only certain positions. It’s expected by today’s talent. The training and development on offer have been listed as one of the top 3 non-financial motivators for modern-day employees at it shows than the employer has their interests over the long haul. A lack of additional training or opportunities to grow skills could have top employees looking for other positions that will provide them with more experience. An organisations investment in human capital can be directly linked to the level of employee engagement which in turn affects the performance of the company. A commitment to training is seen by employees as an investment in their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at the company.
Exciting and challenging work
Employees who aren’t encouraged to pursue new ideas will become bored workers who are less productive and more likely to leave. Boredom leads to a loss in productivity and focus. Rather than letting your employees just go through the motions, challenge them with stimulating work that has a direct impact on your company’s success. Over time, repetitive work will make one feel like they are in a dead-end job. Employees who feel challenged whether that be through creative projects or exciting social events are less likely to look for alternatives.
Work-life balance has become a major focus in today’s world. This is one of the many ways employers can signal to their employees that and their lives outside of work are important. Helping beyond providing a paycheque goes a long way to keeping top performers in their positions. In a 2016 report by Statistics Canada, parents surveyed cited not having enough time for family as their number one complaint with their careers. The survey found that time absent from their spouse or partner was associated with lower satisfaction with their work-life balance. The survey concluded that 79 per cent of employees with a flexible work schedule reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work-life balance, compared with 73 per cent of those whose schedule was not flexible. Offering work flexibility is a great place to start in developing your employee retention strategy.
Recognition and Reward
SurveyMonkey carried out a study to find out how recognition and retention are related. Out of 1,500 respondents, 63% of those who were “always” or “usually” recognized said that they are “very unlikely” to job hunt in the next 3–6 months. In contrast, only 11% of those who are “never” or “rarely” recognized would agree. Regular employee recognition instils a sense of purpose in your workforce. They are, therefore, less likely to seek more meaningful opportunities outside the organization. Further, it builds a line of communication where employees would seek new growth opportunities within the company, without considering a separation. Given these results, organizations should seek changes to improve their strategies like to eliminate favouritism, recognize more than just the top performers, and value employees for more than their
Supportive Management or Leaders
Last but not least, one of the most important employee retention strategies is that of having supportive leadership. As discussed earlier, more than half of all resignations from a survey done by The HR Director (2019) were found to be due to bad relationships with management. Management practices have a direct effect on employee turnover. Managers who;
- respect and value employees’ competency,
- pay attention to their aspirations,
- assure challenging work, value the quality of work life
- and provide chances for learning
have on average loyal and engaged employees. In these days of corporate scandals, having a manager with integrity and respect has become more important than ever. A quality manager will inspire the employees to work harder and they will motivate employees to stay with the organization
The main concern of any organization is its capacity to attract, engage, and retain the right employees. Certain factors are crucial in influencing the employees’ decision to either leave or remain in an organization. To reduce turnover and increase employee retention, companies must invest in the right HR strategies some which have been discussed herein.
Takudzwa Vanessa Machingauta is a consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants, a Business Management and HR Consulting Firm.
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