How To Manage Employee Turnover
I’ve probably had almost 20 jobs in my lifetime since the age of 15. Almost always, my position was one where I replaced a previous employee who left. Also in many cases, I left a position, knowing that someone would be replacing me eventually.
In today’s job climate, employee turnover is inevitable. In many instances, a high turnover rate is a sign that something is amiss. However you are often not in a position to fix the problem, even if you are a manager. With that being said, it is best to prepare for those rainy days when you are faced with reducing your staff. Or, for when an employee (or set of employees) give your their walking papers. Ironically, the best time to prepare for this, is when business is doing well, and the employees are happy.
Surviving the loss of your staff begins shortly after they are first hired…during training. Make sure that their job description and scope is formalized and in their HR file. If applicable, have documentation of the processes that employee is expected to perform. Have a list of tasks, and even a calendar showing when these tasks are to be completed. A new employee can adjust both the processes and tasks if necessary. But make sure that these changes are noted, both for their ongoing review, and to update the nature of the position so that a replacement can have a clear view of what that position entailed.
As a manager, make sure to keep abreast on changes that affect both the employees directly, and the work climate of the company. For example, you may not have any control over the type of health care coverage offered to your employees, but give them a heads up about the change…even if HR alerted them as well. Offer to be a liason to field questions and concerns….in that several members of your team my have the exact same question and/or concerns. Of course, the employee should not feel pressured to talk to you as opposed to HR, but arranging for the HR representative to come to your next team meeting, to perhaps address concerns firsthand, is a terrific gesture to show that you are engaged in your team’s well being.
Do not become complacent with your current staff. Even if you do not anticipate anyone on your team leaving soon, make sure to look into the hiring process at your company…and even perhaps keep an informal file on potential future employees. You do not want to be faced with a full 6-8 week hiring process in front of you on the heels of an employee’s 2 week notice. If the clocked has already ticked down, and you are down to the last couple day with an employee and no replacement in sight, do not pressure the soon-to-be-departed employee with stress stemming from the lack of preparation for the turnover.
Avoid at all costs, the attempt to get employees to commit to staying with the company for a certain period of time, even if only verbally. 9 times out of 10, this sends a negative message to the employee, even if they appear to be receptive to the dialogue. Understand that every employee has their own career path that exists independently from your goals and the goals of your company. While you are partners in shared success, sometimes partnerships need to end. Separate personal feelings and expectations from that of the company.
What to Do When You Lose A “Good” Employee
It’s a blow to any company and manager when a good employee is lost. You may feel like they were irreplaceable…or that you’ll never be able to train their replacement in all of the different areas and skill sets that the previous employee had. Well, I hate to break it to you, but a mistake was made when you made that employee indispensable. You or your company should never allow yourselves to get into a position where the loss of an employee causes hangups in your normal business operations. The cure to this? Cross-training. Make sure that there is someone else on staff who is knowledgeable enough about that position to the point where they can fill in when necessary. Make sure that either the managers or IT can obtain access to all computer and IT systems that employee had. And finally, make sure that when a replacement is found, minimal comparisons between the previous employee and the current employee are made.
It’s the Little Things That Count
While every manager’s personality and management style are different, it is important to maintain communication between yourself and your team. While it is far from being a guarantee, with a history of being communicative, you can catch wind of an employee’s departure well before their two week notice. When it comes to reviewing tasks, make sure to not only focus on the finished product, but that their were ample notes and copies of pertinent emails in the file. If your company uses a CRM system, make sure that best practices are being followed, and sufficient documentation is attached so that another person would be able to open the file and be able to determine what occurred.
And last but not least, acknowledge employee turnover for what it is. It is not pleasant, and it is a challenge. But commit yourself to moving forward. Refrain from holding grudges towards former employees and focus on the potential that lies in the future.