How To Reduce or Eliminate Employee Turnover

How To Reduce or Eliminate Employee Turnover

Are you tired of hiring and training people just to have them leave a few months (or a year) later forcing you to start the process all over again? Are you concerned about the direct and indirect costs of employee turnover in your office, company or organisation? Did you know that one of the keys to employee longevity is easier than you think, and it has nothing to do with salary, benefits or vacation time?

The key is in how we make them feel!

Today, business is more about people than products, especially if you work in a service-based industry like recruitment. If we take care of our teams, they take care of us! If we don't, they find a company that will or they start their own business. Today, we’re going to look at how small, medium and large companies can minimise employee turnover and create a workplace other people are begging to become a part of.

The old saying "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care." is especially true when it comes to hiring, developing, and retaining talent. If we want our people to listen to constructive feedback, perform at their highest potential and be committed to working with us, we need to make sure they feel valued, respected and recognised first.

Internal Relationships

The biggest reason for my success is how incredible my team are! We can’t create amazing businesses without a dedicated team behind us; backing us up when things get tough, helping to come up with innovative ideas, and implementing those ideas.

And, you don't have to take my work for it... Click here to read: five important reasons why teamwork matters.

Getting to Know Each Other Inside and Out:

There are two ways we can interpret this advice and I think both are relevant...

Firstly, we need to get to know what makes our team members tick by getting to know them inside and out through meaningful conversations about business and life. In order to get the most out our our employees, they need to feel satisfied at work, and in order to accomplish this, we need to know them better than they might know themselves!

Secondly, if we're looking for longevity out of people, we need to get to know our team members inside and outside of the workplace. The more time you spend with your employees outside the office, the more likely you are to connect with them on a personal level. This is going to make them more likely to stay because they know you care and they can talk to you if they're struggling.

When we talk about “connecting” with our team we mean finding out things like;

  • what motivates them? are they competitive?
  • how do they prefer to receive praise and criticism?
  • when is their birthday? what's their favourite food and drink?
  • what influencers do they have in their life (positive/ negative)?
  • what skills do they want to learn or enhance?
  • how do they think (logical, emotional, analytical)
  • what do they want for the future (career, family, lifestyle, etc)?
  • what do they like doing and not like doing (on a work and personal level)?

By building up a solid picture of what our team enjoys and how they operate we create a relationship that’s Win-Win. By understanding our team we can position them in our business in a place that they’ll enjoy the most and be most productive in!

According to a talk at Indeed Interactive following a recent survey they conducted,

People with a best friend at work are 113% more likely to report that they plan to be at their job a year from now!


People with a work BFF are also over 200% more likely to say "I'm engaged at work" and "the mission of the company makes me feel that my job is important"!

Now, you don't have to be everyone's best friend (that's impossible, even for an Aquarius like me), but make a conscious effort to make sure your employees feel safe and comfortable because that's the first step towards them forming friendships in the workplace. And, where possible, foster an environment that encourages interaction, teamwork and fun.

Critical Conversations:

Now, being so close to my team also comes with a number of challenges. What’s fantastic about working with my besties is that we all know and trust that everyone has each other’s back. What's not so fantastic (for either of us) is when we to have to have critical conversations about shortcomings, mistakes and problems. But... knowing them as well as I do also helps me predict how they will react or respond.

Our ability to have frank discussions has helped us grow closer and helped us all raise our performance levels. I've learned the worst thing I can do is to avoid a critical conversation just because I'm afraid of hurting someone's feelings. Friend or not, if someone can't handle a mature conversation about how their actions affected the business, they're not someone I want to work with anyway.

Since I'd be letting my company, my team and myself down if I didn't have critical conversations, I've become accustom to a technique that helps immensely!

It's a conversation structure I learned during my sales career called: Build, Break, Build

·      Build: Point out something they're doing well or that you appreciate about them. The goal is to break the ice and soften the blow that's coming. Don't BS them or sound condescending- make sure it's a genuine compliment or the technique will backfire!

·      Break: Bring up the negative situation or ask the difficult question in a professional manner - don't yell or assume fault or name call or otherwise attack them. Always discuss a solution or a timeframe to come up with a resolution.

·      Build: Now that the problem is out of the way and a solution is in the works, make sure they know you're there to support them and ready to put the issue to rest and move forward. Leave the conversation on a positive by ensuring them that this is a learning experience and you know they're capable of rectifying it.

Thankfully, the negative conversations are few and far between, and we have a lot to be proud of and to celebrate. We use every opportunity possible to reward and recognise our people because it boosts their confidence and subsequently their performance levels.

Rewards and Recognition:

When you’re the leader of a team, a company or an organisation, you need to remember to make all your victories and wins about the team. After all, even if we’re the leaders, we wouldn’t have anything to lead if it weren’t for our team.

It’s important that you let your team know how much you appreciate them on a regular basis, and that you let them relish in praise and recognition for their efforts and results.

For example, here’s one of our team members, Lily, accepting our regional award from the FSB on behalf of the company for “Micro-business of the Year”:

Lily; FSB Micro-Business of the Year Acceptance Speech *

Equally as important as individual recognition and rewards, is team or group recognition and rewards. When we encourage team members to compete, they perform at a higher than average rate for a short-span of time. When we encourage them to collaborate and work together, they perform at a higher than average rate and form comradely and productive working relationships - in other words, the magic happens!

Here are some examples of targets and rewards the team and I worked towards together last year or are working toward this year:

  •       If we increase our Jobsite orders by 25% and earn our rebate, we'll take a team trip to Iceland!
  •       If we double our US clients within the first half of the year, we'll take a trip to LA or Key West!
  •       If we reach £1,000,000 in gross revenue/ sales/ turnover, we'll get a set of Rolex watches!

A cool thing I've learned over the years is that rewards and recognition don't always have to cost money! If someone on your team hits their goals early, let them go home early. They'll likely do better quality of work because of the added incentive, and it's not costing you any money. Public recognition can easily be given for free too, thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media outlets. It takes some time to craft the right message, but it doesn't cost a penny!

Different rewards work for different team members depending on what they're motivated by. This is another reason why it’s essential to get to know your team on a personal level and understand what motivates them and what personal goals they’re trying to attain.

The next essential element to attracting and retaining top talent is creating an environment where people feel safe. Safe as in physical safety, but also as in mental safety. It's important to foster a culture where people feel their voice can be heard without judgement or repercussions. You'll get a lot more honest and valuable feedback this way, and it's crucial to listen to the people on your team working with your clients or customers. They know more than most managers or business owners give them credit for.

Company Culture

As leaders, we set our team’s expectations for how they should treat others. This is done by how we treat them, how they see us treat suppliers, and how we behave in our personal life.

We lead by example!

As children, we learn from the example our parents, relatives, teachers and coaches set and we copy their behaviour. We do the same as adults by emulating leaders and managers within the company or industry we're in. Having the title of "leader" doesn't actually make you a leader- it's your ability to gain followers, and more so, your ability to develop other leaders that will make all the difference (with or without an official title)!

So, if we're in early everyday and have an optimistic, pleasant attitude and treat others with respect; our team will likely be in early (or at least on time) everyday, smiling, and treating clients and co-workers with respect. If we’re going out every night drinking too much and coming in late complaining about everything, guess how the team is going to behave?!? How we look, act and talk sets the expectation for our team.

By extension, the company culture is going to be a direct reflection of how we collectively behave. Here’s what strikes me as most important when building an amazing company culture:

  •      Treat others how you’d like to be treated: If you’re open to feedback, your teem will be too. If you’re constantly pushing the negotiation to get the best deal, your team won't accept the first offer that comes their way! If you treat yourself and others with respect, so will your team - simple!
  •      Hold yourself to a higher standard: We’re leaders. As leaders we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard to inspire and lead our team. Realise and remember that the average person will only do what you show them to do 60-80% as well and effectively as you do it (given your advanced skills and experience), so it's important to exceed traditional standards when training others. Also, If you let your own standards slip, you imply that the standards don’t matter that much and therefore they don’t need to worry about them as much.
  •      Be authentic: Your company culture is an extension of yourself. Human beings are fantastic at seeing through inauthentic people. We need to make sure that our personal values reflect those that we express through our business’s actions. A good place to start is by thinking through and writing down your values, morals and vision. If you're really creative, think about what your company would look and act like personified!

Use "We" Language not "You" and "I" Language:

Probably the most valuable thing I've learned about building and maintaining an awesome team is that when correcting behaviour, we should use "we" language (ex: "We really screwed up here din't we?"/ "We shouldn't have said that and now we need to come up with a solution fast!") rather than "You" language (ex: "Wow, you really screwed up here" / "Well you shouldn't have said that and now you need to come up with a solution fast").

The former method (using "we") shows that I have their back no matter what and we're in it together, making them feel better and eager to come up with a solution. The latter (using "you") points fingers and places blame on a situation (where we both already know who was at fault) and doesn't motivate the individual to solver the issue; it only motivates them to work hard enough to "not screw up again".

Now, that's when the message being delivered isn't pleasant or is aimed at correcting certain behaviour or ensuring someone is learning from their mistakes. When it comes to shining the spotlight and giving recognition, we should be using "you" instead of "I" or "We" (ex: "Wow, you did an amazing job closing that sale" / "Well done with our new client's ad content; your new sales advert is attracting top quality candidates"). This shows genuine recognition for their specific efforts and results!

Every Great Leader Needs a Great Team

When you create honest and open relationships with your team, you’re going to see an increase in productivity, a boost in the quality of service that you put out, and a decrease in employee turnover!

Here’s a recap of what we covered so you too can reduce or eliminate employee turnover for good:

·      Be personable: Get to know your team so that you can motivate them and create a Win-Win working environment

·      Communicate openly: Honesty is the best policy but only when it’s constructive. Make sure you offer positives whenever you give someone feedback

·      Focus on team wins: Recognise and reward your team with things they’ll appreciate, share the business victories with them

·      Company culture is your personal brand: The culture of the company is a reflection of your own personal brand. Lead by example 

Culture, mutual values and freedom of expression are three of the main things job seekers and existing employees are looking for nowadays. If you’re looking to implement a strong company culture to retain your employees and increase productivity, send me a PM or comment below.

How have you created an authentic company culture?

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  • Ken Edwards

    Employee turnover is something that every business with workers experiences. If you have high employee turnover, it’s in your best interest to reduce it.

  • Andrea Green

    Respect and develop your employees by giving them the right opportunities. This way you will provide them thousands of reasons to stay.

  • Kimberley Harrison

    Hire the right people and make sure that they fit your company's culture.

  • Susan Wigglesworth

    Provide freedom and flexibility. Otherwise, they’ll take their skills somewhere where they fit in.

  • Julie Knutsen

    We want to be compensated well: offer competitive pay and benefits.

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Kristen O'Connell

Recruitment Expert

Kristen is an award-winning global business owner, keynote speaker with a passion for travel and adventure. She is a a people-focused entrepreneur who built a business from scratch to help like-minded individuals. She is a visionary with a passion for helping others find their calling and achieve their full potential. Kristen launched her own media and recruitment advertising company in 2014 as a result of her vast experience and the understanding that she could help other Sales Directors grow in a similar way. 

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