Turning the Turnover Tide

Turning the Turnover Tide Hanging on to the employees you have By Joe Escobar August 2001 Keeping the employees you have — many companies are realizing that is the key to increased profitability and positive work environments. In...

One essential management philosophy is putting people first. It centers around treating employees as number one. The company ’gives’ in terms of fostering a positive work environment, and it ’gets back’ employees who are happy and work hard towards customer satisfaction and meeting company goals.
Investment in employee training goes a long way towards increasing company loyalty. By investing in training, the company reaps the benefits of having a more knowledgeable workforce — resulting in lower troubleshooting time and increased productivity. It shows the company’s commitment towards helping employees advance in their careers through increased job skill knowledge. It sends the message to employees that they are valuable enough to invest in.
However, the most basic way that a company can foster high morale is to treat employees with respect. Care about the people as people. Branham states that the most important thing a company can give to an employee is good management. Managers and supervisors who abuse and belittle their people account for thousands of turnovers each day.

Measure what counts and pay for it
Money seems to be a key factor in why employees leave for other jobs. Great disparities in pay will send people looking for employment elsewhere.
Sam Lee, Training Coordinator at Goodrich Aerospace’s Fairhope, Alabama facility says "We felt the effects of pay differences in the early 1990’s. Our employee turnover rate jumped to around 25 percent when another aerospace company opened up nearby offering higher pay than what we were paying."
With a high percentage of employees already gone, and more looking to leave, management realized right away that something had to be done. They did an in-depth survey finding out what competing aerospace companies were paying in the area. Their company had always offered good pay for the area they were located in. However, when they compared their pay to aerospace companies within 100 miles, they found out they were falling short. A more competitive pay scale was implemented and the turnover rate went down to a much lower level.
Offering competitive pay works in two ways — it helps keep the employees you have and it also helps attract qualified employees when the time comes to fill a vacancy. Although not the cure-all for turnover problems, pay rates play a significant part in employee retention.

Money is not always the ’silver bullet’
Some companies offer great pay but still suffer high rates of employee turnover. What can be done to turn the tide at these places? According to Branham, more money is not the "silver bullet" for solving high turnover rates. Workers want to feel they are being paid comparable to others in the industry. But more than this, they desire interesting and meaningful work, acceptable working conditions, and good management practices. With these factors in place, the prospect of making a little more money elsewhere where these "softer" factors are unknown is usually not enough to pull the employee away.

A Culture Change

Inspire commitment
The third retention practice of successful companies is that they inspire commitment in their workforce.
Workers want more than just monetary incentives. They want to believe that they are essential to the company’s success. As Robert Reich, an economics professor and former U.S. Secretary of Labor once said, "Talented people want to be part of something they can believe in."
Having a clear company mission or goal is important and helps to show employees where the company wants to go and what it’s core values are. But just stating these is not enough. Employees must be made aware of how their work contributes to these goals and the well-being of the company.

Selecting the right people, right away
Poor hiring practices set the stage for future turnovers. Job applicant screenings should be more than just sticking a mirror under the applicant’s nose to see if he is breathing. Those in charge of interviewing potential employees should be trained on interviewing techniques that give them the ability to hire the best people for the jobs.
Give applicants a realistic description of the job. Keeping information from them, fearing they’ll leave if they learn the truth, is never a good practice.

Coach and reward to sustain
Employees should be given the tools such as necessary initial training and assigned challenging work that utilizes their knowledge and skills. Their achievements should be recognized and appreciated. Make sure they are aware of how their work is important to the company’s success.
Managers need to be trained in career coaching and be expected to use that training with employees.
It is evident that high turnover can be the downfall of an organization. By taking a good look at all the factors involved, a company can work at turning the turnover tide, resulting in a positive work environment and improved profitability.

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