Employee turnover is expensive. Here are the top reasons employees leave and research-backed strategies to make them stay. Wouldn’t it be nice if the word turnover only referred to a small pie? The reality for HR leaders isn’t so sweet.
It’s no surprise that these two are linked: It’s much less expensive to retain a productive employee than it is to recruit one.
But what can you do?
It’d be nice to increase everyone’s salary, but that isn’t happening anytime soon.
And those competitors with the money to lure away your best candidates aren’t making things any easier.
The average compensation increase for an employee who takes another job is 15%. And chances are slim those workers will get that kind of pay bump in their current role without a promotion.
The good news is that while salary plays a role in employee engagement, it isn’t the star player.
Employee retention relies on a combination of factors, including flexible work arrangements, benefits, professional development opportunities, advancement opportunities, company culture, and more.
To help you round out your employee retention program, we’ve put together a list of the top causes of employee turnover and a detailed plan for how to address them.
1. Create professional development opportunities
94% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn for its annual Workplace Learning Report said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development.
Losing employees due to minimal learning opportunities is one of the worst kinds of employee turnover. Employees who seek additional learning opportunities are curious people, and curious people make for better employees.
These workers are engaged and sharp.
They’re the people most likely to jump into a challenge with both feet and think of creative solutions.
If they lack stimulation, they’ll feed their curiosity elsewhere.
Businesses that don’t provide these internal training opportunities miss out on an exciting opportunity to address the global skills shortage.
2. Make sure managers are not compelling great employees to leave
You’ve likely heard the expression, “People leave managers, not companies.”
Management affects how engaged employees are, and therefore, how likely they are to stay at your company.
What exactly don’t employees like about their managers?
There are blatant transgressions like playing favorites, making inappropriate advances, or making informal threats.
But there are also more subtle reasons an employee leaves their manager.
They can range from feeling a lack of development opportunities to not feeling appreciated to feeling micromanaged.
How can you and your managers pinpoint the biggest pain points for employees and proactively address them?
3. Create career advancement opportunities
Good employees want to advance in their career. They are motivated by the prospect of promotions, and the chance to take on more challenging work.
Employees who remain in the same role for an extended period are more likely to leave an organization.
In fact, for every 10 months an employee stays in a position, their chances of quitting increase by 1%.
For many companies, policies about the frequency and nature of promotions as well as other contributing factors impact whether they can offer promotions or not.
Even if an employee deserves more responsibilities, their employer may be unable to provide it.
Often, these circumstances aren’t communicated to employees, or if they are, they’re perceived as stall tactics. In response, these employees start looking for opportunities elsewhere.
4. Improve the onboarding process
Imagine going through the highly expensive process of recruiting a new employee only to lose them within the first two months.
You hired the person, so it means that they possessed the skills required to get the job done. And they likely checked out with a range of stakeholders during the interview process.
Losing a new employee potentially points to a poor onboarding process.
76% of respondents’ workplaces aren’t onboarding their new hires properly, while only 47 % believed their onboarding program effectively retained new employees.
When there’s no onboarding process at all, there’s a higher employee turnover rate and lower productivity levels.
5. Monitor turnover risks
Employee retention isn’t something that you build and then stop working on.
You have to be in constant communication with your employees to make sure their expectations are met and they’re currently happy at your organization.
This is especially true during times of change.
6. Make sure your employees are appreciated and recognized
A sobering 66% of employees say they would quit their job if they felt unappreciated. According to one Gallup poll, 65% of people feel unappreciated at their job.
Meanwhile, another study discovered that the office comes in last on the list of places where people express gratitude. Side by side, those statistics indicate there’s a lot of work to do.
One potential cause for this disconnect is “emotional stinginess”. Whether it’s due to their professional development or their personal temperament, some managers don’t show gratitude, which leaves their employees feeling underappreciated.
Add overworked employees under a lot of pressure, and you’ve got a recipe for turnover.
What are some of the warning signs that your employees feel undervalued?
They’re suddenly withdrawn.
They’re no longer enthusiastic about new projects or company initiatives.
They come to work “checked-out” (otherwise known as the art of doing the bare minimum).
7. Make sure your employees don’t feel overworked and overwhelmed
If someone told you that working at Company A would reduce your life expectancy by even 1%, you’d likely take a job somewhere else.
Researchers from Harvard and Stanford found that long hours decrease a person’s life expectancy by roughly 20%.
Given the demand for talented workers and a renewed cultural focus on health and wellness, few workers are willing to tolerate such conditions.
A report from Morneau Shepell found that 40% of managers and 34% of employees suffer from “extreme levels of stress”.
Overworking employees is a short-term strategy that isn’t worth the long-term pain.
What’s more, overworking employees simply isn’t a smart management strategy.
Research shows that after a certain point, productivity declines for every additional hour.
Moreover, employees who are stressed and overworked fall ill more frequently and make expensive mistakes.
It’s an untenable environment.
Sure, there may be short-term wins in the form of completed projects.
But over time it hurts employee job satisfaction and eats into a company’s recruitment and retention costs as burnt-out employees leave and share their experience with other candidates.
8. Create flexible working arrangements
In some professions, there’s an expectation that employees will be available 24/7.
This expectation freezes out many people who would otherwise bring all the skills these organizations require.
These demands to be physically present at set hours can lead to a drain of talent and resources over time.
Especially when people working from home are as productive as those who remain at the office.
Remote working also reduces one of the biggest pain point of coming into the office: commuting. 23% of workers have quit their job because of a bad commute.
You don’t always need to pay more, you may just need to pay attention
Without question, money retains people, but it’s not the only way to retain employees.
In fact, sometimes it’s a Band-Aid solution to a deeper problem.
Anyone who’s ever accepted a counteroffer only to quickly regret their decision can attest to this.
Employees want to be appreciated, they want to continuously learn, and they want to know that there’s room to grow within their current organization.
And when they notice they can’t receive these things within their current role, they look elsewhere.
Keeping your current employees happy and job satisfaction high is a much smarter employee retention strategy.
You avoid high recruitment costs.
You retain valuable knowledge that even an excellent new hire can’t replace.
And you also protect your employer brand by ensuring people who do leave the organization only have good things to say