Openness and Transparency: being positive about staff turnover...
Many of us have experienced having a member of our staff resign. Traditionally this has been viewed as something negative. It may trigger recruitment to replace the lost staffer, possibly short-term shuffling around until a suitable candidate is secured and a likely loss of production while all this happens...
It might have been even more disappointing if:
- the skills required (that the team member took with them) are quite specialised
- it takes a long time to train someone
- you're a fairly small company
- you can't match the salary offered by a large corporate
Indeed, until relatively recently, running a company or team relied on a stable gathering of staff who were able to contribute over a sustained period. And we didn't enjoy someone leaving! This is changing.
In many sectors at the time of writing, the job market is fairly good. The "quit rate" is quite high - particularly in the information technology sector. Meaning that movement among staff is frequent and many are prepared to leave their current jobs without another one secured before they go.
"Perks" (Attractive Job Factors)...
Many companies offer so-called perks like stock options, bonus payments, flexible working hours, flexible leave arrangements, free food and drink selections, bring-your-dog-to-work policies, child care...a pool table...!
These may be great and in many cases the culture of a company might also be very healthy and supportive...but for many they are still not sufficient to prevent a certain degree of employee turnover. (And, by the way, after a while, it may be that many companies offer these as "standard"!)
So What Can You Do?
Frequently, we try and influence something - like staff turnover in this case - by investing, time, effort, and money to prevent it from happening, only to find that it remains harder and harder to control. Resources can get stretched and it can divert attention away from the actual core business.
We need to take stock of trends and the way the world of work is evolving and develop some new thinking. Here are two key ideas...
1. Openness and Transparency...
Accept that - particularly in some industry sectors - a certain amount of turnover will be present. Be open about turnover and don't view it as negative all the time. Be transparent that staff members will come, grow, develop, contribute and then may choose to move on. Here are some ideas on making that philosophy work...
- Accept turnover and don't fight it
- Truly partner team members in achieving what they want at this stage in their career
- Train and coach them in to achieve both their goals and the contribution you need
- Be supportive if they wish to leave
- Part company on good terms
- Remain in touch with them in their new position
- Welcome them back if they wish to return
Leaving a company well is important. Staff may go to a supplier or a customer and relationships matter today more than ever. Even if someone leaves to join a competitor, they may realise that they were better off where they were and wish to come back. If relations are good then in my view that's ok.
2. Re-engineer the Company
For sure, this takes a few organisation changes. For example, not being reliant on any one team member for supporting a customer or delivering a long-term mission-critical internal project. But such changes are likely to be cheaper and more sustainable than trying to offer ever larger and more expensive incentives for staying.
Let's not forget the market is changing too!
Yes, a stable workforce has some advantages but against that, we must ensure that our collective "thinking" doesn't become too stable and stagnate either. New staff who join us and even previous staff who leave and come back, can bring with them a new idea or a fresh perspective on the market or our products.