Employee turnover is a fact of life. It’s inevitable. While we’d like to minimize it . . . particularly among out best employees . . . we can never eliminate it entirely. And that’s a good thing. From time to time, we need new people who bring fresh thinking and new ideas. Still, we want to hold onto people as long as we reasonably can, and as long as it’s in the best interest of both the employee and company to do so. As someone said, “Be a great place to be from.” That is, be that place that your former employees remember fondly, that they are glad to have on their resume, and that they are happy to recommend to friends and relatives who are looking for work. We know that most people who voluntarily leave a job do so because they have a poor relationship with their boss. So if you want to minimize turnover, it’s up to you and your leadership team to avoid doing those things that tend to chase people away. To learn what behaviors you and others in positions of authority need to cultivate, please continue reading below.
6 Ways to Reduce Turnover and Keep Your Best People on the Job
- Build trust. This is something you must work on continuously. A solid foundation of trust, years in the making, can be undone by a single careless or thoughtless act. So you and your managers need to religiously follow through on whatever you promise to do. You need to hold yourselves to a higher standard of accountability than anyone else. And you need to behave in ways that are consistent and predictable. No one wants to work for a loose cannon who may go off at any moment without warning.
- Be fair in all things. Make sure your pay practices are fair . . . that everyone, regardless of age or gender, who is doing the same or similar work, is receiving the same or similar pay. Make sure company policies are fair and are evenly enforced. Be a role model for the company’s values.
- Be a macro manager. Not a micro manager. Your employees are adults with brains. Give them credit for that. Having someone looking over your shoulder, breathing down your neck, and critiquing every move you make is both physically and mentally exhausting. Plus, that sort of behavior eats away at trust (see #1 above). It sends a powerful message that “they don’t trust me to do this on my own.” As business guru Peter Drucker observed, “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”
- Make it “safe” to fail. Nobody wants to live in fear that an honest mistake or a well-intentioned attempt to try something new will cost them their job.
- Create a respectful atmosphere. Don’t tolerate rudeness, incivility, or disrespectfulness. People want to be where they feel valued and appreciated, and where their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and concerns are heard and understood. As General Electric’s Jack Welch once said, “Make people believe what they think and do is important and then get out of their way while they do it.”
- Make sure everybody understands the business. Every employee should understand the company’s short- and long-term goals, the keys to achieving those goals, and his or her role in accomplishing them. Reinforce such understanding regularly.
These six things are not intended to be a definitive list of all the things you should do to minimize turnover, but if you adopt any of these things that you’re not already doing, you will definitely see a reduction in the number of people heading for the exit.