Staff turnover – what is your excuse?

High staff turnover causes negative morale at the office. Demotivation and disengagement kick in, affecting the relationship with your customers, which will eventually affect your turnover and profit margins.  All this leads to a serious negative impact on your company culture and also on your company’s reputation.

Unfortunately, we tend to find excuses for our staff turnover without digging beneath the surface to unearth the possible causes.

Are these excuses familiar?

“He wasn’t motivated enough.”

This is a possible reason. But why is it so? Was he not feeling empowered? Did we try to find time to speak to him to understand what motivates him?

“It is sometimes healthy to go through a bout of staff turnover.”

But did we factor in the replacement costs? What about the ripple effects it may have on the other team members, such as more work load passed onto them? Will it trigger an added stimulus by other employees to search for other openings outside the company?

“She didn’t fit in to the company culture.”

Who was responsible for recruiting the person? What made the person the ideal candidate when she was selected? Recruiting requires thought and planning. Could it be that we didn’t invest enough time to assess before selecting?

“We couldn’t afford to pay the same salary packages that our competitors are offering.”

This is also a very possible reason but it is very unlikely that the salary package was the only reason for staff turnover. It is an employees’ market – employees have a lot of opportunities and are spoilt for choice.  Loyalty and commitment are very different from previous generations.  Besides the salary offered, we should analyse if we provided a good work/life balance or if we offered enough learning and development opportunities. Are we empowering them to be hands-on and take decisions and initiative when required? Or are we still adopting a strict, tight top-to-bottom approach?

Staff turnover impacts everything – from staff demotivation which could lead to a laissez-faire attitude, to business targets.  Attitudes and personalities are the core component of a company’s culture: they can make or break it. Did we consider the possibility that our work culture or our managers or a mix of both are the real retention problem?

By observing, paying attention, setting expectations and giving and seeking feedback, you will start to realise that there is far more beneath the surface. And, it’s not about pointing fingers – it seeks to assist the team understand how their actions affect the value of the organisation.

About the author

Maria Bartolo Zahra is Managing Director and HR Advisor at SurgeAdvisory. She has over fifteen years of human resources and business advisory experience.