Turnover poised for a significant increase – skilled managers are they key to retaining talented employees


Employers may be in for a battle to keep their best workers over the next few years.  Turnover seems poised for a significant increase, according to a survey done by TalentKeepers, a global employee retention firm.

The study included 547 major U.S. based firms, representing every major industry.  For the first time, this annual forecast was called “decidedly gloomy.” 

First, I’ll share some excerpts from the survey, and then I’ll suggest some ideas about what you can do about it. 

Only 3% predict turnover will decrease for their industry and nearly half – 45% - forecast an increase in turnover.  Early tenure turnover also has been trending up, with many workers leaving jobs after less than a year. 

The study identified fairly definable periods in the employee lifecycle where the risk of voluntary turnover is highest.  While few workers quit during initial training, which is only 1% of all turnover, the number quickly jumps to 15% during the first 90 days.  Another 25% leave around 1 year into their jobs.  Added together, 59% of all attrition is occurring in the first year of employment and begins declining only after the 1-2 year period.  These days, no one is thinking about keeping workers forever.  The new thinking is focused on extending the average length of stay. 

Turnover’s impact on organizations continues to rise as well.  When asked to report the areas most impacted by the loss of employees, executive cited lost productivity and service quality at the top of the list.  We have continued to see these and related business issues rise to displace the typical direct “employee replacement” cost normally associated with the cost of turnover.  Furthermore, based on this research, we predict that organizational productivity will outweigh every other negative impact when a valued employee quits. 

So, what can be done?

If you are ready to call in your HR department to work on this problem, I urge you to take a step back and look at the bigger issue.  There is no HR program that will undo what each manager will not do.  In other words, it’s the employee’s manager who is responsible for orienting a new employee, making sure they are trained for their work, clear about the expectations, and the provider of ongoing coaching and feedback, that will keep the person challenged and growing. 

Craig Taylor, who led the study, agrees, “Employee turnover is a business problem.  No longer can the loss of talented employees be viewed as a “people” problem where responsibility and solutions reside with the Human Resources department.  If a business problem was costing millions of dollars a year, wouldn’t you hold leaders throughout the organization accountable for fixing it?”  Exactly. 

If you organization is serious about retaining the best talent, senior management must put a priority on it.  Here are some strategies that senior management can endorse: 

  • Hiring manager/HR conduct 60-day interviews with all new hires, to make sure they are getting adequate orientation and training.  It also is a great opportunity to see if the company and job are a good fit.
  • Exit interviews are conducted for every person who leaves, and copies are given to the manager and manager’s boss, who is held accountable for any negative trends.  You can bet is a senior manager is questioned by the CEO, he or she will take special interest in how the leaders in his or her department are working with their people.
  • Bonuses are tied, in part, to recruiting and keeping top talent. 
  • Employee development is emphasized.  In companies where this is a priority, top talent is constantly challenged and job growth opportunities are made available.
  • Performance management is a priority.  Poor performers are confronted, coaching and given support to turn their performance around.  But if they can’t, or won’t, they are asked to leave.  They are not moved around the company to other departments, which not only weakens the company overall, it breeds contempt and poor morale among the rest of the employees.  Employees want to have faith that their management has the guts to weed out those who aren’t productively contributing to the company’s goals.
  • Managers administer family-friendly policies equitably (this assumes there are family-friendly, flexible policies in the first place).
  • Senior management lives and strives to model a corporate culture that is based on respect, integrity, open communication and trust.  

(Copies of the report are available, contact Craig Taylor at ctaylor@talentkeepers.com ). 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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