Stop the turnover, stop the bleeding

I don’t think it’s too shocking to say that finding good employees is getting harder now that the great recession is over. History is again repeating itself. We experienced some of the same pains in the mid 90s to the mid 2000s, but in a much different arena. At that time we couldn’t find unskilled workers who could do simple assembly. Now we are having a hard time finding employees who have specific skills due to continual changes in technology. With that being said, retaining current employees is more critical than ever.

Human Resources professionals knew this was coming before the great recession was even upon us. All the recession did was delay the inevitable. We knew that the baby boomers would be retiring in record numbers, resulting in a void in experience and expertise. What we didn’t have, however, was the foresight and understanding on how rapidly technology would change the way most companies do business. This caught both businesses and individuals off guard and unprepared.

Employers should be evaluating their turnover to determine why employees are leaving. Maybe the employer didn’t do a great job attracting and selecting the “right” candidate in the first place. It could be that they oversold the position and can’t live up to what was promised. Maybe the total compensation package (pay/benefits) isn’t competitive. It could be the culture, management and/or supervision. It is now a common saying that people leave people, not companies. Whatever the reason, turnover is costing employers and could actually close a business.

Where to begin? Make sure the true nature and responsibilities for the position are reflected in the job descriptions. Does the position actually require a degree? What are the personal attributes of high performers doing similar work? Hiring based on actual skills to the responsibilities and personal attributes to the position will result in better hires and employee success.

On-boarding is a key contributing factor. What employers do in the first few days may make or break the employee. One of the quickest ways to turn an attitude of excitement to one of fear/uncertainty is not providing a positive, well-planned, on-boarding experience. Just think of the impact when an employer has the employee’s workspace ready on his or her first day with their name on the door, business cards waiting in the middle of the desk next to a well-planned orientation/training schedule, login information with already-established email and other system connections. A big bonus would be an email waiting from the top dog at the location. I know I would be impressed! Make sure the orientation, on-boarding and training provide all the tools, equipment, instructions and directions the employee will need to hit the ground running and begin providing value.

Now it’s up to the supervisor and managers to treat the employee with dignity and respect and provide a safe, non-threatening environment. Employees who feel valued as a contributing member of a team will more than likely experience high job satisfaction. The key word here is value. When the employee and the employer see value in one another, the employment arrangement works. When either party feels a lack of value, the employment arrangement fails.

In closing, when employers hire right, have open communication, ensure ethical business practices are in place, treat employees with dignity and respect, and value employees, lower turnover will result while productivity increases.

Douglas R. Pepin is a business consultant and owner of Advise-HR LLC. He has more than 25 years managing business human resources departments. Learn more at or 651-888-1113.

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