Turnover can transform an organization in positive ways, too


Have you noticed any employee “churn” in your organization?

Human resource professionals know that “churn” refers to employees who’ve been carefully selected, on boarded, trained, and mentored but still quit after only a short time on the job. Also called employee turnover, churn is unfortunately a colorful descriptor of what seems to be happening in these instances, often with similar types of assignments or within departments. It’s like the organization is simply chewing and spitting people out.

Employee turnover is a BIG problem …

Some degree of turnover is expected, but that doesn’t make it convenient or cheap. In fact, a recent survey by Millennial Branding, a research and consulting firm, and the Beyond.com career network, advised that “more than 60% of millennials leave their company in less than three years” and that replacing just one employee can cost anywhere from $15,000 to as much as $25,000—equaling almost a half a year’s salary in some cases. This is not a good prospect for employers who routinely lose around 10% to 15% of their workforce each year, to competitors no less, after investing time and money in the long-gone employees.

Yet, turnover can reveal needed changes

Playing devil’s advocate a little, I’d like to suggest that sometimes turnover can be a good thing. Why? Turnover can provide a window that allows employers to uncover hidden problems within the organization. These are problems that can be remedied.

Examples include inefficient recruitment practices or poor selection of candidates from the start, the need for additional resources and training to make employees successful, lower than average starting salaries that fall below what competitors offer, and outdated or negative corporate culture that causes employee dissatisfaction.

The best-case scenario is when employee churn happens at lower-level assignments, in which case the company can take steps to increase wages and improve accuracy of job descriptions. The worst-case scenario is when a company loses employees who have been hired for top-tier assignments, in which case the impact can be felt more by the rest of the company. That’s why it’s important to conduct regular performance reviews, employee surveys, and exit interviews to uncover any problems sooner rather than later.

Finally, turnover may end up being a good thing

In some cases, employee turnover can help the organization to approach things in a more positive way. Instead of allowing entry-level employees to simply burn out after a few months on the job, the company can focus on mentoring programs and process improvement to keep these employees onboard for a few years. The organization can also provide better wages and ongoing incentives for employees who become loyal to the cause.

Instead of allowing churn to take over the company, use turnover to make necessary and positive changes within the organization.

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