Every company experiences employee turnover. The goal is not to remove it completely, turnover has its benefits, but to reduce it to an optimal level for performance and profit. There are several motives driving employee turnover. Typically, employees leave because of ineffective management, weak office culture, or job ambiguity, just to name a few.
Fortunately all of these motivators can be tweaked, but first let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons.
Reason #1: Ineffective Management
Management is arguably the most important aspect of increasing employee longevity. Managers are responsible for motivating their teams. They need to work with individuals to unlock motivation and production potential. This can be achieved in a couple different ways:
Often times, lack of motivation can be caused by seemingly unattainable goals. This can be incredibly frustrating for your employees, and it might make them feel that there is no point in trying. After a few performance reviews, confidence will become shaken and self worth will plummet.
This is where implementing S.M.A.R.T. goals becomes necessary. Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Reasonable, and Timely goals allow clarity for your employee. After setting these goals, the individuals on your team should feel that they can achieve these goals and they’ll know exactly what they need to do to make it happen.
The Power of Performance Reviews
Transparent and consistent feedback is a must to become a well run organization. For employees to improve, management must give timely and accurate feedback, but they also need to be respectful and empathetic.
Transparency means a couple things.
- It is an agreement between manager and subordinate to be honest. This entails sharing the hard truths in good faith that the person receiving the review trusts you’re only motive is to help them succeed. There can often be a large gap between trusting the review as help or feeling the review as an attack. Naturally, if someone feels attacked they’re going to run or fight back. Neither of those options increase motivation or productivity.
- Transparency is sitting down with your employees and finding out their goals, personal and professional. By doing so, you can figure out what motivates them to succeed and you can help them design a professional plan. A large reason for employees to leave is an unclear path for promotion. You, as a manager, should be checking with your employee annually, at the very least, to ensure they are meeting their goals to keep them on track.
Consistent feedback is just as important as transparency. We don’t mean the feedback itself, rather the way it is relayed and when. Feedback needs to be more than a pat on the back or a wag of a finger, every performance review should include an open dialogue. Allow your employees to voice their opinions, ask them if they need help, or if you know they need to strengthen a skill, show them their training options. Lack of coaching or availability to training creates frustration in those seeking help, if you want your employees to maximize productivity, help them. Lastly, these reviews should happen consistently. It’s recommended to have them as often as quarterly, but some companies even choose weekly, keeping their employees sharp.
Reason #2: Weak Corporate Culture
Company culture is the utmost importance when trying to improve employee turnover. A negative or degrading culture will drive out the strongest of employees. Poor office culture can be created through constant company reorganization, lack of autonomy, and poor management, just to name a few.
- Company reorganization can be very good, sometimes the organization could use a face lift. We get into trouble when this is happening too often. Reorganization creates a disconnect between the new management and their team. Building trust between the two parties takes time, if the management is always changing those bonds can’t form and the level of respect declines.
- Job autonomy means allowing your employees to make decisions for themselves that impact their performance. Micromanagement makes employees feel that you do not trust them and it removes their power. Empower your employees, this will create trust and pride in their work. As discussed above, there are many ways to improve management. If it is not improved upon, employees can feel undervalued, they might become sour while their faith and confidence are shaken.
- The trouble with culture is that it snowballs from one employee to their peers. Overtime, as a few employees feel inadequate or untrusted, they will start to emit negativity. This negativity becomes insidious throughout the team and studies have shown that everyday exposure to negativity hurts productivity and can cause a good employee to quit.
Reason #3: Job Ambiguity
A root cause of turnover is ambiguity. This happens as early as writing the job description for roles to be filled. Employees often leave because they do not have the necessary skills for the job, because they are assigned tasks that were not part of their description, or because they do not know what is expected of them by management.
The best way to solve role ambiguity is at the beginning of the recruiting process. When creating the job description, there needs to be one person in charge of figuring out what the role entails. This person needs to talk to all aspects of the job to figure out what else is expected of the new employee that isn’t necessarily obvious.
By nailing down a more accurate job description, candidates will know if they are a good fit and won’t apply if not. This step will reduce the chance of a new employee not having the right skill set or being irritated by tasks not previously assigned.
As for management expectations, these can be defined in your transparent and consistent review meetings. Because you’re now having open dialogue between employee and management in these meetings, your employee must feel comfortable to voice their concerns about unclarity.
The good news is that turnover can be reduced, the bad news is that it takes dedication from all parts of the organization. Once the organization is acting as a team you will begin to see company culture improve, management tactics improve, and turnover decline.