As the captain of your ship (read: your business) it’s your duty to steer your crew (read: your talent) in the right direction, ensure they have the tools needed to succeed in their role, and do all you can to ensure they don’t go overboard (read: resign prematurely).
Employee turnover is inevitable in every industry, but it isn’t totally out of your control; you have more influence over employee retention rates than you realise, provided you identify and address areas of concern. It should be noted that staff turnover takes into account both voluntary and involuntary turnover – voluntary turnover being when an employee leaves on their own accord, and involuntary turnover being when employment is terminated often because of unsatisfactory performance. While neither are desirable, voluntary turnover can indicate that there are internal issues hindering business success.
So, why should staff turnover be limited? Well, talent is your biggest asset, arguably above your clients. “People are the most important thing. Business model and product will follow if you have the right people,” says Adam Neumann, Co-founder of commercial real estate giant WeWork.
From an HR perspective, the loss of talent is a financial burden and a huge drain on resources due to the time and cost involved in recruiting, onboarding and training new hires. High staff turnover can also have a negative impact on team morale and productivity as existing team members may experience increased work demands. What’s more, it can spark concerns among team members which could stimulate a domino effect, in turn damaging the reputation of your business. Put simply, employee retention should be at the top of every employer’s agenda.
Lessening staff turnover – and its effects – isn’t straightforward. Keep reading to uncover 3 common reasons why workers terminate their employment – and how you can sail your business through calmer waters.
1.Your employees feel poorly managed
There’s a saying (coined by Wendy Duarte Duckrey, Vice President of Recruiting at JP Morgan) that goes, “People don’t quit their jobs; they quit their managers”. It may be an ugly truth for an employer to confront, but when an employee hands in their resignation it’s important for HR to investigate how they were managed, for example by implementing professionally designed and delivered Exit Surveys.
In a study about employee retention, the Australian HR Institute (AHRI) asked its respondents which methods they believed to be most effective. Almost 70% of respondents believed that effective management and leadership was an important retention method, followed by a positive workplace culture (60%) and opportunities for career progression and promotion (42.3%). It is therefore crucial that companies adopt modern leadership practices and invest in coaching and development. This way, the dialogue between a manager and his/her team is positive and empowering and there is a mutual understanding and respect, resulting in better productivity and performance.
Just as vital, is that companies measure their retention initiatives by deploying feedback programs such as Engagement and Pulse Surveys, and perhaps focusing on specific aspects of ‘culture’ such as Diversity and implementing Recognition programs.
2. Your onboarding program is ineffective
Research from Bersin by Deloitte states that 90% of new recruits will decide in the first six months of employment whether they will jump ship or stay with their employer. This means that the window in which a business must make a positive lasting impression is very small, and relies largely on how new starters are onboarded.
Having an effective onboarding program will ensure new starters feel “socialised” and engaged within a new team, and will decrease the likelihood of an early exit.
A 2019 study states that “new employees typically take around 12 months to reach their full performance potential within a role”. It’s therefore crucial that onboarding programs reflect this timeline. That’s why PeoplePulse recommends and delivers custom 3-Phase Onboarding Surveys for the majority of our clients, with multiple check-ins designed around each organisation’s particular needs; e.g. one organisation may set their check-ins at 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months, whereas another may find 2 weeks, 3 months and 12 months makes more sense.
We take a custom-design approach as we understand that there is no quick fix or a one-size-fits-all approach that works well – and no two workplaces are ever the exact same. Engaging and retaining Gen Zs, for example, is a whole different kettle of fish.
Think of onboarding as a marathon, not a sprint – one that involves regular check-ins and learning and development opportunities. Your business’ onboarding approach should also cultivate company values; don’t just list them on a presentation slide, put them into action. Show rather than tell.
3. You are not offering enough flexibility
Expectations around work-life balance have changed drastically over recent decades – not only in Australia, but worldwide. SEEK Learning’s study on work-life balance outlined its four interpretations: flexibility in hours/location; work that doesn’t disrupt home life; no overtime; and the ability to time-bank.
Offering flexibility at work is the new norm, and employees now expect to have some degree of flexibility during their working week. Employers that don’t respect the importance of work-life balance may be deemed antiquated and out-of-touch.
Flexibility in the workplace aids many modern-day lifestyle factors. For instance, a survey by Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) found that employee dissatisfaction can be attributed to long commutes. Aussies are now travelling longer distances to get into work (66 minutes on average in state capitals, as of data released in 2017), which means employers must exhibit greater understanding and consideration around flexible working to ensure their employees feel valued and appreciated (and are willing to make the journey into the office).
Flexibility is also important for Kiwis according to recent statistics, with three-quarters citing satisfaction with their work balance and 79% attributing flexible working hours to that satisfaction.
If your business does not adapt in conjunction with the evolving social landscape and the modern demands placed on workers, you may struggle to keep your employees happy. They may then be inclined to seek new employment that offers them the flexibility they require to achieve job satisfaction and reach their full performance potential.
Workplace satisfaction translates into engagement – and eventually, employment longevity. It’s therefore essential that you look out for warning signs and confront any frustrations that your employees have head-on, so that you can address them quickly and efficiently. Ultimately, the more talent you keep on-board, the further your ship will sail.
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 2018 Turnover and Retention Report, AHRI
 “Onboarding Software Solutions: On-Ramp for Employee Success”, Bersin by Deloitte webinar
 “7 Problems with your Onboarding Program”, Gallup, 2019
 “Who has the best work-life balance in Australia?”, SEEK Learning
 HILDA Survey, Release 17, Melbourne Institute
 “Most Kiwis find good balance between work and home”, Stats NZ, 2019