Credit: Nick Shepherd

8 ways to reduce staff turnover

CRASH COURSE: Recruiting new people is expensive and disruptive. Here's what you can do to help retain employees.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 22 Apr 2016

1. Money talks… up to a point. Research by HR consultants Willis Towers Watson suggests that base pay and career advancement opportunities are the two key drivers of retention globally. But Adam Maurice, a senior reward consultant with the firm, adds: ‘When you delve deeper, base pay is to some extent a hygiene factor. If you don’t pay enough it’s detrimental, but paying more only helps to a limited extent.’

2Look beyond pay. Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at recruitment consultancy Robert Half, says: ‘Our research with UK HR directors shows the number one reason for people to leave their jobs is to seek out opportunities with a better work-life balance.’ Benefits, bonuses, chemistry and commuting times are among the many reasons people leave or stay.

3Segment the problem. Within your organisation, people in one job have different priorities from each other. There may also be generational variations – so know what drives each group. David D’Souza, head of London at the CIPD, says: ‘For example, in your call centre you may expect a certain amount of attrition due to seasonal factors, but if five accountants leave there’s likely to be a quite different reason.’

4. Talk to leavers. Exit interviews are good, but take the answers with a pinch of salt. ‘People tend not to be negative about the company because this is the time when they have the least emotional investment and they don’t want a difficult conversation or period of notice,’ says D’Souza. Employee surveys also yield insight.

5. Offer a road map. People are less likely to look around if they have a clearly defined career path ahead of them. ‘Use performance reviews to talk to your employees about their aspirations and goals,’ says Sheridan. ‘Using their input as a point of departure, brainstorm ways you might structure job descriptions to advance those goals.’

6. Keep up the conversation. Talk to individuals regularly to monitor their happiness and expectations. ‘Train your managers to spot someone they want to keep but who shows signs of not being engaged,’ says Maurice.

7. Recruit to retain. ‘Place emphasis on management when you recruit, and you will create a culture of people who care about people that will pay dividends down the line,’ says D’Souza.

8. Be strategic. Your management of employee turnover should reflect your broader strategy, says Maurice. ‘In a highly innovative company like Apple you need fresh ideas and talent all the time, so you might even be transparent that you expect people to use this as just a step on their CV.’ In businesses where continuity and experience are more valuable, retention may be more important.

Do say

‘We aim to develop our people, help them build satisfying careers and reward them accordingly.’

Don’t say

‘Never mind – there’s plenty more where he came from.’


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