Talk to any Senior Manager today and what is keeping him/her awake at night is their inability to find and hire skilled workers. Talent is in short supply and the competition for what is an insufficient supply is fierce. Organizations are often faced with vacancies that cannot be filled or having to lower the position requirements to fill these vacancies, what many of us in human resources call the warm body syndrome. One solution is to manage the turnover of staff. If key staff is enticed to stay by a variety of means then there are fewer vacancies and thus a more manageable skill shortage issue.
First let’s look at why people leave an organization. Study after study has outlined the reasons why people leave and speaking from my own experience I totally agree with the primary reasons stated by these studies. The first reason is that people leave because the compensation policies of the employer are either not competitive with the external market or it is inequitable within the organization. Often the two go together. When these circumstances exist people will look elsewhere for more money and a fairer recognition of their worth.
The second reason is that the work environment is poor. Communication is non-existent and people don’t feel valued and appreciated. This environment makes coming to work a painful and often a very stressful experience. When faced with this fact people will look elsewhere for a better work place. The third most common reason is the relationship with the supervisor. If this relationship is negative the work experience will be very stressful and employees seek relief by joining other organizations.
What actions can we take to mitigate against losing valued employees? In my past leadership experiences I have done three things that helped reduce turnover. The first thing is to track turnover, not just on a global basis but drilling down further and provide answers to questions such as; Where is it happening? What does the exit interview show? Who is the supervisor? Why did the employee start to look for another job?
A second action I took was to constantly survey employees to determine what they liked and what was bothering them. Although every three years or so we did a very formal employee survey in the in between years we asked either very few but key questions or had focus groups to discuss issues that might be creating anxiety. The key with this action is to take action on what you find out. Otherwise you are making matters worse.
Lastly I encouraged every CEO I worked for to invest in leadership training. If you look at the reasons why people leave, the main cause is poor leadership. If an organization invests in its entire employee gruop in leadership positions the work environment and relationships between supervisors and employees will be much more positive and turnover is significantly reduced.
Managing attrition provides many benefits, none more beneficial than keeping your key people.