How to Start Drastically Reducing Turnover in Your Organization Today

In today's gig economy, individuals with unique skills and experiences are incredibly valuable to organizations…and their competitors.

If companies want to attract top talent and reduce turnover, it's growing increasingly important to differentiate themselves and provide what employees really want.

Why the First 6 Months Are Critical

In a study of over 1,000 workers, 31% reported having quit a job within their first six months. If there's something an employee wants in their career and your organization doesn't provide it, they will leave sooner than later in order to find it.

Some organizations will position their benefits as eventual. For example: "If you work hard, you'll eventually be rewarded with monetary perks and development opportunities!" Candidates are walking into new positions already knowing their value—and they may have already proved it in previous roles. If you don't offer what they want right off the bat, you're more likely to lose out on ideal candidates. With the mobility and flexibility we're seeing in today's workforce, the old-school mentality of "prove your loyalty, invest your time, and then get rewarded" just doesn't work.

More than ever before, employees are on the hunt for something better. If you want to remain competitive and retain employees, determine what you can offer candidates and place it all on the table from the get-go.

Are You Aware of Your Impact?

Some of your top employees may be hanging on by a thread, and candidates may be passing you by to work for companies who are actually listening.

What is your organization currently doing to compensate for this cultural shift? If the answer is "not enough," the time for change is now.

A recent Forbes study found that staying employed at the same company for over two years, on average, will plummet your potential lifetime earnings by about 50%. If you want your employees to stick around, you need to be aware of what's happening, where your organization stands in relation to it, and how you can provide what's most important to today's workforce.

While a competitive salary continues to play a role in career decisions, there are a few factors that are even more critical to employees than income. If you want to reduce turnover costs, retain top employees, and attract talent, you need to prioritize the three things the incumbent workforce wants most:

1. Purpose and Value Alignment

Current and potential employees want to know how an organization is making the world a better place, as well as how their position plays a role in this greater purpose. Emotionally, they need to feel connected to what you stand for. A survey of over 26,000 LinkedIn members revealed 74% of candidates want a job where they feel like their work matters.

In this current "war for talent," purpose and mission have everything to do with your bottom line. If employees can't make the connection, they won't feel fulfilled, and they'll begin to look elsewhere.

Donald Miller explains how vital it is to establish a mission in his best-selling book Building a StoryBrand: "The number-one job of an executive is to remind the stakeholders what the mission is, over and over. And yet most executives can't really explain the overall narrative of the organization. Here's the problem: if an executive can't explain the story, team members will never know where or why they fit."

According to Miller, "A true mission isn't a statement; it's a way of living and being…a mission is a story you reinforce through every department strategy, every operational detail, and every customer experience." The purpose and mission of the organization needs to be communicated regularly to help serve as a driving force behind behavior. As Simon Sinek wrote in Start With Why, "All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year."

The same is true for values, which need to be an integral part of business operations. When recruiting, be as candid and transparent as possible about all facets of the open position and make company values known. If you communicate values up front with potential employees, it will give you both a better indicator of whether the relationship will be a good fit. This will also prevent turnover and unnecessary hiring costs in the future.

Leadership also needs to walk the talk and tie their behavior to values to set a positive example. When leaders are out of integrity and not living company values, employees notice, and the result is a negative impact on morale. Read more about leadership integrity here.

Current employees want to be part of the values conversation, and it's important for engagement. Invite employees to collaborate in this critical conversation and decide together what you stand for as a company. Treat company values as a living thing that can change over time and make needed adjustments together as you go.

2. Feedback & Growth Opportunities

Job seekers and employees are wanting and asking for development opportunities. A Better Buys survey of over 2,000 participants found RETENTION RATES ARE 34% HIGHER for employees with development opportunities.

If an employee feels their organization is not supporting their personal and professional growth, they're likely to seek out another organization who will meet this need.

Growth is imperative for leadership as well. Leading successfully requires a unique skill set that includes training and ongoing development opportunities. Not to mention, around 50% of employees leave their company to get away from their bosses, according to a Gallup study. Employees who don't get along with their managers will leave a company regardless of salary or benefits. This is why developing leadership skills is important not only for professional growth or the bottom line, but also for attracting and retaining employees.

This desire for development includes a craving for ongoing feedback. Feedback helps us see what we may not see, giving us a clearer sense of how we can grow. When feedback is limited to formal reviews, we are left in the dark the rest of the time. If we "say it when we see it" and give feedback on the fly, opportunities for growth suddenly occur every day.

In order to support employee growth, it's also important for leadership to delegate effectively. When done skillfully, delegation strengthens the strategy and leadership muscles of individual contributors while allowing leaders to stop micromanaging—freeing up the space to contribute where they're needed most. It allows leaders and their teams to expand professionally and develop a greater sense of accountability. Without it, the decision-making process slows, and we run the risk of unbalanced workloads.

Start this shift toward a culture of more frequent feedback and growth opportunities by giving and receiving feedback in the moment, as situations arise, rather than saving all your thoughts for prescheduled one-on-ones. Begin delegating by identifying the tasks that are the top time-takers in your role and assess the capacity and desire of others to take on new responsibilities that will support their growth. by giving and requesting desire of others to take on new responsibilities that will support their growth

3. Culture

A Columbia University study shows that the likelihood of job turnover at an organization with rich company culture is a mere 13.9%, whereas the probability of job turnover in poor company cultures is 48.4%. This makes a dramatic difference in time and money not just for employers, but also for current employees—high turnover can lead to imbalanced workloads and added stress.

A workplace culture is made up of many factors, but the most important are psychological in nature. Employees crave a culture of mutual trust, psychological safety, growth, and inclusion. They want their voices to be heard, and they want to feel safe enough to express their true thoughts and feelings without fear of consequence. A psychologically positive culture will go a long way in retaining and attracting employees.

Although people cerebrally understand culture's importance, people tend to talk about culture as something external. For instance: "My culture doesn't encourage transparent, direct communication, so I can't have those kinds of conversations with my executive team right now." This is largely an excuse to not have the kinds of conversations that have the power to improve the circumstances. All employees and leaders contribute to a company's culture, and personal responsibility is a factor.

That said, leadership behavior inevitably plays a significant top-down role by modeling and reinforcing certain behaviors when they interact with others. An otherwise knowledgeable and skilled leader will not be effective if they don't have the relational skills to back them up. Leaders will have a negative impact on culture if they don't know how to seek out the perspectives of their employees, show empathy, provide support, and have the conversations that matter most.

The formula for a positive workplace culture is C=R=C. The conversation is the relationship is the culture. Your quality of your conversations—knowing what to talk about and how to talk about it effectively—will directly impact your relationships and the quality of your culture.

If you want to know what conversations you need to have to make a change, download our latest eBook 5 Conversations You Need to Start Having Today.

Get Started Now

Here's your first set of action items to begin seeing a drastic reduction in employee turnover:

  • Invite employees to collaborate in the values conversation and decide together what you stand for as a company. Reinforce your company's mission statement through every department strategy, every operational detail, and every customer experience.
  • Practice giving and receiving feedback in the moment, as situations arise. Begin delegating by identifying the tasks that are the top time-takers in your role and assess the capacity and desire of others to take on new responsibilities that will support their growth.
  • C=R=C. Start having the conversations most critical to the success of your organization and everyone within it.

Take to head and heart the importance of investing in your people and begin looking at potential solutions to strengthen what your organization has to offer. Actively seek out the perspectives of colleagues, teammates, and fellow leaders. Get stakeholders involved and start talking about how you can provide what employees are craving.

Positive changes in your organization will start with a single conversation.


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