How To Investigate High Staff Turnover

Loosing staff is an expensive business: loss of hands on to complete tasks, loss of critical competences, loss of knowledge and skill and a loss of order and structure to the flow of work. Very importantly customers relate to individual members of your staff, and NOT the wider organisation – losing that pivotal member of staff can have repercussions far wider than you might imagine.

Turnover of staff is a natural process – the organisation that never loses staff is either very lucky, having contented and highly skilled employees or cursed, with staff whose staffing profile is not being refreshed with new blood.

When the turnover rate starts to progressively increase this is time to be worried and to start asking some searching questions.

  1. Where in the organisation is turnover highest?

Is turnover coming predominantly from one area alone? Is it focused into one team? What is the leadership like in that area? Is there a profile here e.g. ages of those leaving, is the level of training suitable for the business?

  1. Are there common reasons why staff are leaving?

Review the Exit Interview data to identify common reasons for departures: is it the manager, team leader or the mixture of staff in that area? Knowing this will give you something to grab hold of to make a difference in that area.

  1. What is the bigger picture?

What is the bigger picture in the organisation? Are the demands of the market forcing a change in the labour that you need, have pay levels fallen below what the competition is offering, is the organisation undergoing significant changes that you cannot ignore? It may be that the more skilled staff that you prize, and need to retain, are being poached by the competition? Whatever you uncover will shape your actions going forward.

  1. Is it the individual’s manager?

People are FAR more likely to leave their manager rather than leaving the organisation. This is an inconvenient truth that is inescapable. Poor leadership can bring feelings of insecurity, a lack of safety and serious levels of low motivation and morale. Are staff effectively being driven away?

  1. Drill down into the Data – Data is your friend

Organisations are very complex bodies with many different, inter-related activities and cause and effect systems shaping outputs and control. Staff retention and departures are linked to many different data sets including increased absenteeism, decreased sales, poor customer feedback and increased errors and re-work problems. Hence just looking at pure numbers of departing staff is not a sound basis for making any decisions or coming up with remedies. The broader your data search the better your understanding of what is going on. Understand the causes and not just the symptoms!

  1. Employee length of stay

What trends can you identify here? If there is a serious leaching of staff within their first 3 months of being with you then clearly this is an area for investigation and analysis. Is this because the recruitment methods/messages/recruitment processes are not working or is the Induction programme not fit for purpose? If not. Then your attention needs to be on employee development/manager style/rewards and recognition/training.

  1. What are your competition offering?

The job market of today is ultra-competitive so it is essential to keep a close eye upon your reward/development package and benchmark this against what the competition can offer. Make sure that you are keeping pace and not falling behind. Understanding this can help determine necessary changes.

  1. What are Supervisions/Appraisals/1:1s telling you?

Are there levels of general dissatisfaction and unease being picked up in the above? Individual managers conducting them may be aware of individuals who are not content and probably put this to one side and do nothing about it – a collective gathering of such pieces of data will give a clearer, organisation-wide picture that will feed into a richer picture of staff retention pressures.

  1. Do employees feel cared for?

Do they? And as an organisation, how is this shown? This is a key factor in making the organisation a good place to work which then creates a greater intent to stay.

Good Luck!

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