How to Reduce Employee Turnover (+Why Employees Quit)

Lauren Pope
Lauren Pope  |  March 20, 2019

Has the front door to your office turned into a revolving door of employees coming and going?

You’re not alone–employee turnover is a real problem which many companies struggle and could be a sign that your talent management strategy isn't as effective as it could be. As an HR professional, it can be frustrating to see employees leaving your company regularly without any idea how to fix it. Finding a solution for employee turnover and improving employee engagement can seem difficult if you've never done it before. 

While there is no one size fits all solution to employee retention, there are a few things you can do to get your company on the right track.

How to reduce employee turnover

The hardest part of fixing employee turnover is that it takes an incredible amount of work to identify the cause and then create a plan to fix it. You’ve taken the first step in finding a solution by recognizing there is a problem that needs to be solved.

If you’re skeptical that those six steps are all you’ll need to repair your employee retention, you should be. This process will take several months of planning and cooperation from everyone in your organization.

However, this article will help answer some of the most common questions about employee turnover and equip you with the tools you’ll need to begin creating a positive change in your office.

Looking for specific information about employee turnover? Use the links below to jump ahead:  

What causes employee turnover?

The cause of employee turnover will vary from company to company, as there is no singular reason why employees quit. According to industry research, there are a couple of common reasons employees cite for why they want to leave their jobs.

Why do employees quit
 

These common reasons given by employees as reasons for quitting should serve as a jumping off point for your own internal investigation. Chances are at least you’ll find at least one of these problems as the reason your own employees don’t want to stick around.

Unsure which of these might be the root of the problem at your company? It may be time to invest in talent management software that can help you track employee engagement, employee satisfaction surveys, and more. 

Employee engagement software offers HR managers the opportunity to solicit and track feedback from their employees, recognize employee achievements, and promote positive activity. While it's not required, it can greatly assist HR departments dealing with a large number of employees.

Ready to revolutionize your talent management strategy?

See the Easiest-to-Use Employee Engagement Software →

The hidden cost of high employee turnover

Believe it or not, the cost of high employee turnover is more than just the money you’re losing. Choosing to ignore your employee retention problem could be inadvertently harming your brand reputation and employee morale.

These hidden costs can penalize you more in the long run than an employee walking out the door. Every employee that leaves your company is an unofficial brand ambassador for what it’s like to work for you. The longer you leave your employee retention problem unsolved, the more frustrated employees will leave and became detractors of your brand.

Tip: Learn about the importance of turning your current employees into company brand ambassadors.

Do you feel confident that former employees will speak about your company in a flattering way? If not, you should focus on fixing your employee retention problem as soon as possible.

How to tell if your company has an employee turnover problem

The big question you’re probably asking yourself right now is, just how bad is my company’s employee turnover? One thing to keep in mind during this process is that employee turnover is an unavoidable part of doing business. You will always have employees who leave your company regardless of the changes you make and in some cases, employee turnover can be a good thing.

When is employee turnover a good thing for my company?

  • The bulk of your employee turnover is low-level or underperforming employees
  • Employees you lose have been with the company for a long time

It’s normal for a company to occasionally lose high-level and tenured employees due to career progression, life changes, etc. This is an inevitable part of any company’s lifecycle. Alternatively, losing low-level or underperforming employees can be a good thing for your company because it offers you the chance to hire fresh, new talent.

When is employee turnover a bad thing for my company?

  • You’re regularly losing top talent to competitors
  • You find yourself scrambling to ‘put out fires’ every time someone leaves
  • You can’t seem to keep any new employees longer than a year
  • Your turnover rate is higher than the industry average
  • You’re losing people faster than you can replace them

If you find yourself in this category, you probably have an employee turnover problem on your hands. Employee turnover on a large scale can cause problems for any company and any combination of the above problems can spell trouble for an organization.

Tip: Check the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find employee turnover rates by industry and compare your company to the industry average.

Once you identify the scale of your employee retention problem you can get started on creating a plan to fix it.

How to improve your employee retention

Now that you understand the cause and cost of employee turnover, it’s time to set about fixing it. The process of reducing employee turnover takes time and special attention to repair. As an HR professional, you will need the full cooperation of everyone in your company to properly address the problem.

Analyze your company’s turnover rate

The first step to fixing your employee retention problem is figuring out just how big your problem is. You’ll need to take an inventory of all the relevant information you’ll need to make a decision about your employee retention problem before you move forward.

Questions to ask in order to tell if your employee turnover rate is too high:

  • How many people have quit in the last two years?
  • Are they leaving to work for a competitor?
  • Are they all coming from the same department?
  • How long do people usually stay before they quit?
  • Did they tell you why they left?

You may find a pattern emerge once these questions are answered. Once you’re able to clearly identify a pattern for your company’s poor employee engagement you can turn your attention to focusing on how to fix it.

Be transparent with your employees

Once you’ve determined the depth of your employee retention problem, it’s time to talk with your current employees about it. Your current employees can offer a direct insight into what the problems are and offer solutions for how to fix it.

There’s a good chance that your current employees are already aware of the company culture and the problem with employee retention. Some may only be passively aware of it, while others may be actively looking to leave your company because of it.

One step you may consider taking is conducting an employee engagement survey designed to specifically address the issue of employee retention. Ask for specific feedback about their experience and allow them to be open with criticism. Your employees should always have the option to fill out their employee survey anonymously. This step may be one of the most difficult but it can also be the most valuable.

75 percent of employees would stay longer at an organization that listens to and addresses their concerns. (Ultimate Software)

You’ll want to keep communication open during the process and inform your employees about the steps you’re taking to fix things. Let employees know that your office is open and that you are willing to listen to their complaints and suggestions without fear of repercussion. You need to include your current employees in the process of fixing your employee retention problem.

Reexamine your hiring and onboarding process

If you’re having a problem retaining employees, there’s likely a problem with the process you’re using to hire and train new employees. One of the first projects you can tackle during this process is reexamining your hiring and onboarding process. This is another part of the process where you can speak with current employees about what specifically they think can be improved upon. It’s easier to train someone on the job than it is to force someone to be a good culture fit.

Here's how to fix your hiring process:

  • Remove any unnecessary steps that may deter top talent from applying to your company
  • Rewrite job descriptions and postings to be more attractive to potential candidates
  • Be more transparent and communicative with talent during the process
  • Involve your team and managers in the hiring process
  • Ditch the useless interview questions when interviewing candidates
  • Look for candidates that have exceptional soft skills and are a good culture fit

As you continue changing things and working to improve your employee retention, remember to follow-up with surveys and questions to gauge the effectiveness of what you’re doing. Conduct a survey for each new hire after they are hired and onboarded; ask what worked during the process and what they thought could have been better.

Here's how to fix your employee onboarding process:

  • Ask current employees what they wish onboarding covered
  • Involve your employees in onboarding and training new hires
  • Ask managers how you can support them in the onboarding process
  • Make yourself available to new hires during their first couple weeks
  • Create a mentorship program and partner new employees with current ones
  • Offer continued support and training after the onboarding process is complete
  • Consider investing in an employee onboarding software

Focus on employee happiness

The best way to keep employees from quitting is to keep them happy at work. Employee motivation will vary from person to person which is why you’ll want to take a holistic approach in keeping your employees happy.

A simple way to figure out what motivates people is to ask them. Have your managers meet with their employees one on one and find out what they are motivated by and use this information to boost your employee retention plan.

How to improve employee happiness:

  • Offer competitive pay and benefits
  • Recognize employees who work hard
  • Define opportunities for growth
  • Create a culture of fun and trust
  • Offer more flexibility or work from home opportunities

Many of these improvements will take time to implement, so it’s important to communicate with employees as the process unfolds. Focus on a few quick-wins you can accomplish immediately from the list above to help improve morale and employee retention.

Tip: Learn how to gauge employee satisfaction using an NPS score

Don’t be afraid to make tough choices

There’s a chance that the problem causing your employee turnover problem isn’t just a lack of benefits or career growth, it may be other employees. This is one part of the process that will take time and a delicate touch to maneuver but it may help save your company culture and fix your employee turnover problem.

You shouldn’t be too quick to fire someone simply because employees complained about them. It’s important to get both sides of the story and give everyone a chance to explain themselves before making any decisions.

Tip: You may be able to help a difficult employee improve by putting them on a Performance Improvement Plan.

Unfortunately, there will be some cases where you run out of options with some employees and you may need to let them go. You should be prepared to make some tough decisions during your quest to repair your employee retention.

It’s never too late to fix employee turnover

You may have already lost some great employees to poor talent management but that’s okay – there’s no reason you can’t start on fixing the problem. Employee retention is a tricky thing to manage but with the help of this article and your fellow coworkers, you’re one step closer to closing the door on employee turnover.

Want to stay in the know about human resources? Read our 2019 employee engagement infographic for more information.

Lauren Pope
Author

Lauren Pope

Lauren is a Senior Content Specialist at G2 writing about compliance, legal, and technology. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Atlassian, and here on the G2 Learn Hub. In her free time, Lauren enjoys listening to podcasts, watching true crime shows, and spending time in the Chicago karaoke scene.