When you lose a number of employees in close succession, the most obvious reaction is to recruit. Recruit, recruit, recruit! And there is a time and place for recruitment, after all, you cannot service your clients without your team. However, a better use for this time would be for reflection. Periods of high attrition can be extremely costly for businesses, and for this reason you want to ensure that this is a one-off.
Of course, you will not retain everyone forever. Life happens. People change roles, even career paths at times and sometimes in order to progress, we must move on. However, if you’ve found yourself saying ‘people just don’t stay with companies nowadays’ or ‘everyone just wants to do less work for more money’ you might want to take a closer look at your retention rates.
It is true that in general, retention rates are lower. The average employee turnover in the UK is now around 15%, however this figure dramatically increases within certain industries. However, this does not mean that you cannot build a strong team to last. Your clients need experience, and you cannot attend every meeting, answer every phone call and personally deliver on every project yourself. For this reason, it is vital to have a few key teams who can build rapport with your clients and instill confidence in you that the work is being done.
So what can you do? Many companies make the mistake of (metaphorically) writing off employees once they hand in their notice without considering how valuable this person can be to the future of the business.
Many companies provide exit interviews, however these are generally too individual-focused. Why are you leaving? Where are you going next? How was your experience with the business? While these seem like the most obvious questions, perhaps a better route would be to focus on the business. What are the key issues within in the business? What could we do to ensure the team is happy? What is one key area our business lacks compared to other employers. Answers to these questions will still be from the perspective of the individual, however this style will make it clear that you are aware there are issues within the business and are open to hearing feedback.
Shifting the focus from the resignee to the current team. It always frustrates me when employers offer massive (usually financial) incentives to someone who has handed in their notice or is threatening to leave. This can be demotivating for employees still with the company and could even push them towards resigning. A better way to approach this would be to focus on employee satisfaction prior to the point of crisis. The most common way to do this is to develop an annual engagement survey asking employees for their opinions on certain issues. However, this can stifle valuable discussion as paper/screen-based surveys can be restrictive when it comes to the answers they yield, although they are definitely a good place to start. If you’d like to consider some more creative and open approaches to engagement and culture changes, please reach out at Ellie@nepturnal.com for an informal chat.
All too often, we move on from a period of high attrition too quickly, without asking the most pertinent questions. Perhaps the most important one of all is ‘What will I do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?’