Overturn turnover by watering your lawn

The other day, I heard someone say, in response to an employee leaving their company, that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side; he’ll be back. While I have mixed thoughts about that statement, what if the grass is greener at the new company? But why would we assume he will return to your organization if it isn’t? I’ll put a pin right here and return to this thought later.

Turnover is healthy for an organization. Yep, I said it, and I know HR professionals and employees who are directly impacted by their co-workers leaving don’t always share that sentiment but stay with me, I’m going somewhere with this. Turnover is a part of doing business as it helps businesses filter out those who no longer believe in an organization’s mission, vision, and culture with those on board with the mission and brings about fresh new ideas. But we all know what happens when turnover rates become too high…that’s right, it wreaks havoc on the bottom line and decreases morale.

The main problem is when top talent begins to leave. Holding on to top talent within the organization is challenging when job openings are abundant. As of December 2022, The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that the rate of job openings increased to 11.0 million and 6.7%, respectively. Then, the number of people voluntarily leaving their job is still high at 4.1 million. While this number has decreased, leaders should take that as their cue to see where adjustments need to be made to retain their talent.

Honest moment, on my OneDrive, I have a folder labeled employment that includes my updated Curriculum Vitae (CV), resume, and cover letter template ready for use whenever an exciting career opportunity arises. Some of you may be reading this, wondering why she is putting herself out there like that. Just as I can access my employment folder to apply for a job within minutes, so do employees within your organization. Not only do they have their CVs, resumes, and cover letters ready, but they also have sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and LinkedIn bookmarked with job alerts set to receive emails that fit their desired job. Because we know this and we’ve seen the statistics concerning job openings and quits, the goal is ensuring leaders are watering their grass to overturn turnover.

Before examining how leaders can water their grass, let’s examine why employees leave organizations. I’ll start with one that I’ve faced, upward mobility or the lack thereof. Many employees leave the workplace because there is no room for growth. Some employees do not mind staying in the same position for the rest of their careers, but many others want forward progression and growth. Employees who feel like the glass ceiling is suffocating them are forced to look elsewhere for employment. Another reason employees seek greener pastures with different organizations is because of more money and better benefits. I know money is only sometimes the answer, but, especially in this economy, who would not benefit from more money and better benefits? Proactively compensating employees instead of reactively compensating them in a counteroffer is critical. Then there is one of my favorite topics, poor workplace culture. When employees don’t feel valued and feel like the organization is not vested in their future, they will leave to find greener pastures. There are many more reasons, like poor leadership, toxic work environments, flexibility, micromanaging, and lack of diversity, equity, and belonging, all of which can fall under poor workplace culture, why employees leave, but I digress.

As you see, many reasons employees leave organizations are preventable, so let’s consider strategies that could make a difference in the turnover rate in your organization.

  1. Define, develop, and improve the company culture. Company culture can be its greatest strength, vital for longevity and success, or weakness, which can be detrimental to the organization and its employees. It is essential to ensure that the culture aligns with the organization’s strategy and that the right people are in place to establish and execute those strategies within the intended culture. Having the right leader in place who demonstrates the organization’s core values is essential. To ensure that the culture aligns, the leader must foster an environment of learning and perpetual growth, promote a culture of recognition, ensure accountability, communicate the vision, foster a culture of transparency, and cultivate a culture of inclusion, equity, and belonging. Not only that, but ensure that employees are fully aware of the culture, immersed in it, and feel like they are a valued part of it.
  2. Develop growth opportunities. Job mobility is a crucial retention strategy because it helps employees develop skills and knowledge and motivates employees to perform better. The framework allows employees within the organization to work in various roles and positions. Of course, every organization may be unable to move every employee upward. Still, a lateral move can be just as effective for employees to develop skills and expertise that will benefit both the employee and the organization. Providing opportunities to attend conferences, workshops, and other career development sessions outside the organization is also important to enhance employee skills and networks. Benefits of job mobility include increased morale and improved retention and agility, which all result in highly adaptable staff that can take on different roles to help the organization be efficient and effective. You may think you’ll train them up, and they will leave your organization, but what if they don’t? Offering opportunities for growth is a win-win for the organization and the employee.
  3. Create a meaningful workplace that promotes innovation. I saw a saying on LinkedIn that says, “A company’s growth is dependent on the leader’s growth, and if your organization is stagnated, chances are the company is operating in a world that no longer exists.” The definition of insanity comes to mind when I read that statement, doing the same thing and expecting different results. If companies want to maintain top talent, the leader must first be willing to grow not in the technical and day-to-day operations of the organization but in leadership growth and development. I’m not saying that some of the strategies they learned when they were hired during the year of my birth aren’t relevant, but we are in a whole new world. An outdated way of thinking can create a stagnate workplace, which limits innovation and growth, ultimately causing top talent to leave and potential talent to overlook the organization. The leader must be a visionary and lifelong learner who can lead the company in a direction that represents economic growth and stability. On the flip side of this, I’ve seen organizations that still have some growth despite their leadership challenges. However, imagine where that organization could be with exemplary leadership.

Leaders should consider many other strategies when evaluating turnover, but the ones listed should be on the front end of the roadmap to overturn turnover. Now, to get back to my original statement about having mixed thoughts about the grass being greener on the other side, I’m still torn. Yes, some leave and find that the grass may not be as green, but the employee left for a reason and understanding why is important. Understanding why an employee left still holds if the grass is greener on the other side. The main point is for leaders to water their lawns to ensure they provide employees with the best experience that would give them reasons to remain with the organization longer.

Joy Smith-Durant

Joy Smith-Durant

Dr. Joy Smith-Durant, DBA, serves as the Chief Lending Officer of Eagle Federal Credit Union. With over 20 years in the financial services industry, she has dedicated most of her ... Web: https://eaglefederal.org Details