Retention is one of the most common problems a company can face. The costs of employees quitting compound quickly—in addition to lost productivity, retention issues can place a strain on your HR department, your onboarding team, and your company culture. The biggest mistake companies make when trying to understand their retention issue is to treat the symptoms, but not the root cause of the problem.
Common causes of employee turnover
You won’t be able to reduce employee turnover without understanding the causes of your problem. No two cases are alike. Usually, retention issues arise as a result of lapses in your hiring strategy. When recruiters fail to adequately communicate the reality of a position to a potential hire, this can cause significant problems. The candidate accepts the position, only to find that the day-to-day is completely different than what they expected.
In other cases, a hiring manager will fail to identify whether or not the candidate is simply a good fit or not. Maybe they didn’t ask the necessary behavioral interview questions or tried to rush the hiring process. A candidate will be great on paper, and solid in the interview, but falter when it comes to being a team player and contributing to company culture. You should be vetting candidates for soft skills—not just technical qualifications—to make sure they’ll be a vocal communicator and an active contributor to your workplace family. These days, with the advent of remote interviews, text interviews, and chatbots, it can be tempting to use technology to streamline your hiring process, but remember: there’s no shortcut for the face-to-face encounter. If you’re facing chronic employee turnover, it’s worth taking a good hard look at your interview process.
Another prevalent cause of high employee turnover is a lack of competitive salary or benefits. This becomes more pronounced when there’s a hiring shortage. Unemployment is incredibly low. If a position doesn’t offer competitive pay and meaningful benefits—not just cosmetic perks—it’s no surprise when employees keep leaving for something better. There’s simply no shortcut here: in addition to core benefits like 401k, health insurance, and paid time off, you should consider offering flexible work arrangements.
Employees leave when they feel as though they’re not able to take their career to new heights within your organization. If they’re not able to take on more responsibility, make more money, and feel like they’re on a track to something better, they’ll start looking elsewhere. You should make sure that every position in your office has opportunities for growth. Growth can take different forms—it could be a path to a promotion, or different educational initiatives so that they can learn enriching skills while on the clock.
Company culture and employee retention
The last common culprit of chronic employee turnover has to do with company culture. Now more than ever, employees want to feel like their day job is contributing to some form of social good, within a group of diverse people with a shared goal. Teambuilding initiatives, charity days, designated workplace social events, can all get the ball rolling. Building company culture also involves developing avenues for communication, so employees feel both rewarded and comfortable expressing any discontent that they might be feeling.
Employee retention can become chronic when companies treat it as a surface-level issue while avoiding holistic transformations in the organization. In many cases, companies will rush the rehiring process so that they can get back to business-as-usual, only to be faced with the same problem six to eight months down the line. In order to mitigate your high employee turnover for good, you need to practice preventive care, and transform your organization into one where employees feel cared for, adequately compensated, and as though they are fulfilling their own potential.