Business Development

6 Steps to Reducing Staff Turnover



HR practitioners have the potential to act as a real strategic partner in a business, while homing in on aspects that are allowing cash to flow out of the business.

One major drain on resources and morale can come in the form of staff turnover. Even the best workplaces will lose good people from time to time, but a high turnover could be indicative of a much wider problem.

It’s essential for HR to be ready to step in and tackle the root issue causing a high staff turnover, from diagnosis to evaluation.

If your organisation is experiencing a high staff turnover, then these actionable steps will give you a blueprint to fix this.




The Real Cost of High Staff Turnover

For SMEs, the average cost of replacing a single employee is £11k; there are many other outgoings to consider over and above the cost to advertise a vacancy.

The cost of staff turnover is contributed to by the likes of agency costs, time to source the right candidate, replacement staff and even overtime for employees to cover the vacant position.

Employers also pay for a lack of productivity in the early stages of a new hire. The more complex a role is, the longer it will take for the new employee to get to grips with the structure. For example, a new legal worker will cost a practice around £39,887 as they take an average of 32 weeks to become adjusted.

The cost of a replacement member of staff in a lower paid position is 16% of their salary. For mid-range positions the cost is 20% of their annual salary, and for hard to fill executive positions 213% of their salary budget is required.

The time sink from an HR perspective is massive. For each new employee, hours must be spent crafting job descriptions, interviewing and paperwork required for the employee. That’s why it’s essential to focus on prevention, rather than cure!


What Level of Staff Turnover Is Expected for Your Industry?

If you don’t have much in the way of context for your turnover rate, then you should consider industry averages. The retention rates that you can expect should be on par with others in your industry; radical differences may be cause for concern.

LinkedIn have provided insight into the industries that experience the highest turnover. These include technology, retail and media.

Each of these sectors experience a high turnover for different reasons. These can include stressful environments, increasing demand or technological advancements reducing the workforce. This can then be compounded by individual factors, like poor management, understaffing and difficult working conditions.

Being aware of the industry standard for your sector is a good starting point. Even when your staff turnover is average, you can still work to improve it. This assists you in not only cutting costs, but also helps to retain top talent and free up more valuable HR time.




Diagnose Where the Issue Lies

A high turnover can be indicative of a multitude of issues; it’s up to you to investigate which ones are contributing to staff leaving. Using the organisational structure and design, you should work through any department in which staff turnover may be disproportionately large.

This may be across a certain job role, title or shared management. Identify the common aspects in high turnover roles to get to the root of the issue. You can use performance reviews and exit interviews to learn more about areas for concern.

You can also offer hypothetical ideas to gauge how they would be received by employees. Flexible working initiatives, changing responsibilities and further support can make workers happier in a role. You can trial these on a smaller, temporary scale before widening this to the rest of the organisation where appropriate.

As well as diagnosing issues that are occurring already, you can also conduct analysis as to ones that may be important in future. Reducing the impact of these issues could mean that valuable employees stay within the company. Think about new initiatives or staffing challenges that may require additional work to manage.  


Be Responsive

Employees can become frustrated within their role if they feel like their contributions aren’t being considered.

This doesn’t mean you have to select an outcome that would be preferential for the employee but show that you are aware of their communications. Lay out the steps that are involved with the task; this is especially important if it will take a longer period of time to come to a decision.

If an employee complains about another employee, then you should be quick to act. In this instance, you can explain the need to review the evidence, discuss it with their manager, potentially involve those higher in the company and research the regulations around the complaint.

Keep the employee updated where it would be appropriate to do so. You don’t need to detail the evidence you have gathered, but you can alert them of the stage you are at with the investigation.

Bear in mind any issues that would prevent you from sharing information, as it may impact the member of staff’s right to privacy.




Create the Right Atmosphere

Full-time employees spend a large proportion of their lives in the workplace, so create the right atmosphere to make this more enjoyable. The smallest differences in the workplace can have a much larger impact on employee turnover.

If you implement an open and responsive environment from an HR perspective, then employees will be more forthcoming. Concerns about career progression, other members of staff or workload will be easier to air once this has been established.

You should also ensure that managers are setting the right example to other employees. They should understand their place within the organisational structure and work towards the common goals of the company.

Line managers should be ready to treat their direct reports fairly and according to the values of the organisation. A high turnover in a single department may indicate a manager that isn’t doing so.

While you may not be statutorily obligated to offer perks or be flexible with your staff, going that extra mile is what will make them want to stay in the company.


Train Effective Staff Members

If staff don’t have the right skills to do their job, then they won’t feel effective within their role. This can be a major flaw within the organisation that damages the employee, productivity and also the reputation of the business as a whole.

Instead of just accepting the training that is in place for staff members, use your initiative to identify areas for improvement. There may be glaring gaps within the prescribed training that would not be identified by upper management. Those doing the job are best placed to tell you what they need!

Looking for training outside of the workplace can give additional resources to staff. Investors in People found that a lack of career progression was among one of the top reasons why workers disliked their jobs. Showing a willingness to train and progress employees keeps them happy.

If they show an interest in a different role within the company, you can offer them some training on the job. Beyond that, you can invest in a qualification that would give them the opportunity to progress further in this career path.



Praise Staff

When was the last time a good member of staff received praise within your organisation? If you don’t remember, then it’s been far too long!

Crediting staff members for their efforts and making them feel appreciated gives you a major advantage over the rest of the market. Lack of respect and praise will lead to higher attrition rates.

If you plan to promote these members of staff, then you want to instil these values in them too. Teach them to appreciate staff by showing that you appreciate them, it’s not rocket science!

Between performance reviews, take time to distribute this praise in person too. Backing this up with increased pay is also appreciated, but feedback alone can still be powerful.


Remember… It’s Not All About Money!

While likely all employees would like to have a bit more cash in their pockets, this isn’t what motivates them most to move jobs. The conditions of the job are higher on their list of motivators. Poor management, lack of progression and inadequate resources are more often cited as a reason for leaving a role.

Effective HR practitioners and employers strive to create a job that is too good to leave. Offering perks like training, good working hours and flexibility makes a job better than average. When weighing up a new offer, these will all come into play for the employee.


These building blocks to reduce staff turnover are highly effective, especially when combined with a caring employer.

Know your staff and their goals to nurture them within your organisation. While you can’t keep each and every employee, reducing the volume of leaving staff will save valuable resources.


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