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4 Ways to Address High Employee Turnover

Author: C. Curley Date: September 12, 2011

Many factors cause employee retention problems, so small businesses shouldn’t assume people are leaving for better pay. An employment audit can help you get to the bottom of the problem and implement the appropriate solution.

“You can't have your top talent walking out the door and still be a high-performing organization,” says Carol Quinn, owner of Hire Authority, which offers workshops on employee retention in Delray Beach, Fla.

Consider four potential approaches to an employment audit:

1. Surveys

Employee satisfaction surveys can get to the root of workplace dissatisfaction. You might find that some people are leaving for better pay or benefits, whereas others feel they haven’t received sufficient training. Surveys set an expectation that management will act on the findings, so be sure to publish a follow-up plan of action afterwards.

2. Happiness Assessments

Mary Miller, CEO of janitorial services company JANCOA, says annual turnover at her company used to be over 360%. “Come 5 o’clock every day we were trying to figure out how we were going to get buildings cleaned,” she recalls. But Miller found that addressing employees’ happiness outside of the workplace trumped other methods for improving retention at her Cincinnati-based company.

She started holding group conversations with employees to discuss what problems they faced in their personal lives—and what would make them happier overall. The company created a program called Dream Manager, whereby teams use creative ways to help employees achieve their dreams. In one case, two workers temporarily swapped schedules so that one could take a music production class. “Studies show that turnover rarely has anything to do with money,” Miller says.

Through this program, Miller says she’s lowered the turnover rate to 45%.

3. Hiring Practices

“Most companies don’t track their quality of hire,” says Quinn. They fail to examine retention among their best people, and so they don’t determine why their top performers are leaving. Revisit your employee selection process. Maybe conducting better interviews could weed out people who aren’t a good fit. Miller says she avoids hiring people who are concerned solely with money or don’t have any future vision for themselves.

4. Consultants

An outside consultant may help get more honest responses from employees and uncover blind spots in your practices. They may do on-site interviews to get to the source of dissatisfaction, and then propose solutions. They’ll also review human resources data such as exit interviews and performance metrics to look for areas for improvement.

Related Resource: What to Do When You Can’t Afford to Hire

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