How to Prevent Employee Turnover

All managers would ideally like to avoid employee turnover as much as possible, especially in the case of highly talented, exceptional performers. When you lose a really good employee, it’s like a double blow, because not only have you lost a valuable company asset, but you now have to fill the position as well.

As most managers are well aware, the whole process of recruiting, interviewing, checking backgrounds, hiring, and onboarding, can be at the very least, extremely time-consuming, and at worst, it can be a major nightmare. Given the fact that employee turnover can be such a problem for any company, it’s certainly in the best interests of a good manager to be aware of the tell-tale signs of employee disenchantment and to do everything possible to avoid the loss of good employees.

This discussion will center around recognizing the signs of diminishing employee interest and make some recommendations on what you can do to avoid the scenario where an employee actually leaves the company.

Identifying the Warning Signs

Increasing absenteeism

When you notice that an employee begins to have more frequent absences from work after having an initially good attendance record, this could be a sign of diminishing interest in the job. Obviously, there could be personal factors involved, such as a sick relative, or other issues at home, but in the absence of any of these external influences, increased absenteeism can be an indicator of reduced job interest.

When you notice a sudden cluster of personal days being taken, or possibly vacation time or sick time, that could very well be a sign that your top-performing employee is interviewing at other companies and possibly a competitor. Of course, it could also be a sign that an employee is experiencing some kind of burnout on the job, and is looking for time off to recharge the batteries. If burnout doesn’t seem to be the right answer, it becomes even more likely that an employee is shopping around.

Attitude changes

Another red flag to look for which might be a sign of employee disenchantment is when you notice an obvious change of attitude – in the negative direction. For instance, the employee in question might once have been a solid team player, anxious to work with others toward the accomplishment of a major objective.

If that same person now seems reluctant to participate in team projects and instead seems to shun co-workers or criticize them, this can be a classic sign of job dissatisfaction. A change in attitude won’t generally be as obvious as the example just described, so you have to really pay attention to pick up on it, because the actual symptoms are likely to be much more subtle.

Drop-off in work habits

When you notice a developing drop-off in employee work habits, this is something worth further attention, because it might be a sign of job disinterest. You may see this in the form of missed deadlines, or unusual errors which the employee would not have committed at any time in the past. It may also be manifested as a general decrease in productivity, which contrasts starkly with the employee’s former productive nature.

Again, you should attempt to find out if there are other factors involved in the employee’s personal life which might be causing the drop-off. If problems at home or with family and friends can be ruled out, chances are that your suddenly unproductive employee is losing interest in the job.

Social withdrawal

When an employee is thinking about leaving the company, you may start to notice that he/she is less engaged with other employees, and that there’s a tendency to avoid any of the more social activities in the workplace. This might be in the form of team-building activities, or after-hours get-togethers, or possibly planned outings together at local events.

When this kind of withdrawal happens to an employee who was previously heavily involved with other co-workers, it might well be a sign that he/she is disengaging from other employees, and from the company itself.

Preventing Employee Turnover

Demonstrate concern

It’s important that you show the employee you’re concerned about whatever issues they have with the company and the job. If the person is looking for more responsibility and more challenging work, you should consider ways that will allow the person to stretch out and develop as a professional.

If training opportunities will help to increase their skill set and stimulate greater interest in the job, try to arrange for such opportunities. Personal growth is one of the most frequently cited reasons for employees leaving a company, so this is something you need to take very seriously with any top performer in your company.

Review compensation

Compensation is another of the most frequently cited reasons for employees becoming disenchanted at a job, and thinking about other external positions. Employees who are top performers are well aware of that fact, and they know their services are in demand, which means they can reasonably expect to be well compensated elsewhere. If you can’t offer a significant salary increase to your disenchanted employee, consider offering other perks like working from home, flexible hours, or other kinds of benefit upgrades.

Express your gratitude

Although a disenchanted employee’s sole reason for leaving will probably not be a lack of appreciation for their work, it’s still a good idea for you to express your gratitude for all the great contributions they’ve made. An occasional ‘thank you’ or some other kind of recognition goes a long way toward making employee feel wanted and appreciated. If there are other issues involved, you’ll need to understand what they are as well, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to show a valued employee how much they are appreciated.

Arrange a candid meeting

You may want to confront the situation head-on, and actually, schedule a meeting with your disenchanted employee to find out exactly what they’re feeling. If you can discover the reason for their dissatisfaction, you can then at least explore some potential resolutions for the situation.

Whatever you do in this kind of meeting, you need to avoid being confrontational, but should instead attempt to get to the bottom of the issue, and then do your best to solve the problem. This may be your last-ditch effort, so if you feel strongly that an employee is about to leave, make sure to try this one last effort to avoid the loss of a good employee.

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