Avoiding troublesome turnover

Two months ago you hired Dave, your next star employee. This morning he informed you he’s leaving to go to your closest competitor. Now what?

When an employee leaves soon after starting, the price of another job posting is not your biggest financial burden. Statistics show that when a person vacates a job within 3 months of hire, you end up paying about what you would have paid that person in one year!

The far-reaching effects of turnover:

  • Dave’s days with you might come to an end, but his work and ongoing tasks sure don’t. You might have to pay staff overtime to cover the workload and satisfy your customers. Budgeted funds set aside for other projects might have to be reallocated. And the lost camaraderie of your overworked and increasingly resentful team comes at a high price.
  • Incalculable financial opportunities are lost when a key employee is no longer there to quickly deal with emergencies, answer questions, and resolve problems. Customers often feel abandoned when the person they were just starting to feel comfortable with leaves. Diminished client confidence takes time to rebuild.
  • A departing employee can negatively impact team morale. Cynical comments about working conditions or pay rates might be voiced loudly by exiting staff. Remaining employees may feel sad or opportunistically reassess their own likes and dislikes and make new demands.
  • If Dave stays on with the standard “two week notice,” a salary is paid for what usually turns out to be minimal effort.
  • Your own time is money. Replacing Dave requires you to pore over resumes and conduct interviews. Hours that should be spent devising new plans, developing business strategies and attending to everyday business needs, are lost.

Now that we’ve weighed all the unfortunate effects of employee turnover, let’s talk about ways to cut down on it.

Ask each candidate the same questions, at least in that first interview, whether you seem to be speaking to a lively go-getter or a gentle introvert. Spend ample time with each candidate, and do NOT go with your “gut feeling.” Doing so is often a costly mistake.

1. Provide applicants with an accurate job description. Without it, candidates are unable to determine if they are truly interested in, and compatible with, the position. The more precise you are, the more likely you are to hire the right person.

2. If possible, have applicants sit with an existing employee. A first-hand look at the work and environment gives the applicant a clearer understanding of whether or not the workplace, co-workers and duties are a good fit.

3. Understand every aspect of the position and the innate traits needed to fulfill the job’s demands. Asking a shy, standoffish person to make cold calls will lead to bitter disappointment and failure. Do everything you can to be certain the person you are considering is truly able to perform well. Talk to references, call former employers, verify experience, perform background checks, and utilize a behavioral assessment.

4. Know the work habits and expectations of people before you hire them. Ask a lot of questions! More time and money are wasted when two people, both excellent in their positions, have work approaches, communication styles or time expectations that clash. Disagreements, confrontations or sudden departures are inevitable.

Example: Let’s say you’re a manager who keeps a close eye on your staff; you make yourself available to answer questions, keep tabs on precarious situations and don’t mind when someone calls you a micro-manager.  Remember Dave? Did we establish why he was leaving? It could be that while he was entrepreneurial, performed well and clearly had the drive, determination, and self-confidence for the job, he felt stifled by your firm management. He wanted freedom; you wanted control.

5. Set expectations and share them with your applicant. You might be looking for someone who can be up and running within 60 days; however, your applicant may be the type who needs more time, likes to learn one task thoroughly before moving on and hates being rushed. Decrease the risk of mutually frazzled nerves and strong indignation by making your requirements and timetables clear during the interview.

While there will be times when turnover is beyond your control, following these strategies should limit it. Behavioral assessments can also help and are widely available to hiring managers who are looking to reduce turnover, improve team morale or learn new ways to enhance employee performance.

Resumes and cover letters are only small pieces of a bigger puzzle. Stay focused on finding the right person by spending a little extra time talking to applicants, scheduling multiple interviews and implementing hiring plans. You’re busy and have better things to do with your time than circling through a revolving door of employees!

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt

Carletta Clyatt, a popular seminar speaker, is the SVP at The Omnia Group.  She offers clients advice on how to manage more effectively and gain insight into employee strengths, weaknesses ... Web: www.omniagroup.com Details

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