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How to Reduce Employee Turnover and Stop Losing Top Talent

High employee turnover can point to serious issues. Once you follow these steps to find your turnover rate, see what moves can help you boost retention.

Employee Experience

People don't often leave jobs that they love. However, they also may not tell you why they're moving on until they reach the exit interview. But by this point, it's too late to get them to stay.

Addressing employee turnover and retention from a team member's first day is as important as optimizing your hiring process. Without a solid talent retention strategy, the revolving door of hires is costly and counterproductive.

In this article, we'll cover these topics:


What is employee turnover?

Employee turnover rate is the number of employees that leave within a specific timeframe.

Turnover is a natural part of every business. Still, if your company has a consistently high turnover rate, this can indicate more significant issues within the organization or work environment. 

The 2 types of employee turnover

There are two types of turnover:

  • Involuntary turnover: This is when the organization decides to remove team members. This can be for budgetary layoffs or for poor performance, unprofessional behavior, absenteeism, or another violation of the company policy.
  • Voluntary turnover: Unlike the above, voluntary turnover is when an employee leaves on their own to retire, take a break from the workforce, or take a new job elsewhere. 


How do you calculate employee turnover?

You can calculate monthly as well as annual turnover rate, but the formula is the same. An annual rate will give you a big-picture idea of your employee satisfaction, while smaller monthly calculations are contextualized with specific company updates or hiring activities. 

Let's look at how to calculate your turnover rates. First, you'll need these three metrics:

  1. The number of employees employed at the start of a specified period
  2. The number of employees employed by the end of the specified period
  3. The number of employees that left the company within the period

Step 1: Find the average number of employees during the period you're looking at by adding the first and second metric together and dividing the total by 2.

Step 2: To get the turnover rate percentage, divide the number of employees who left (the third metric above) by your average number of employees and multiply that figure by 100.

Here's an example of how to find a monthly turnover rate. First, let's look at our metrics:

  • The number of employees at the beginning of the month is 50.
  • The number of employees at the end of the month is 70.
  • The number of employees who left during the month is 2.

Step 1: (50 + 70) ÷ 2 = 60 employees on average

Step 2: (2 ÷ 60) x 100 = 3% turnover 

Once you've calculated your turnover rate, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics to benchmark whether your employee turnover rate is high or low for your industry.

Note: When calculating employee turnover rate, it's best not to include temporary workers or contractors as it will skew the numbers. 

Common causes for high employee turnover 

Employee turnover: different gears working togetherThe bottom line is that turnover is expected in just about every business. However, there are some potential red flags: a high general turnover rate or a high turnover within a certain time period or for new hires or certain departments. If you notice these trends in your company, it's time to examine why.

Here are some common causes of high turnover:

  • Lack of investment in employee engagement
  • No opportunities to advance in a career path
  • Poor work-life balance leading to burnout
  • A toxic relationship with coworkers or management
  • Poor onboarding for new employees
  • Subpar incentives for high-performing staff
  • Competitors poaching good employees
  • Internal promotion that offers more career development
  • Insufficient employee benefits

By keeping track of what keeps the team happy and regularly measuring your employee turnover, you can get ahead of these common causes.

How to boost retention rates

Employee turnover: 2 colleagues talking to each otherThere are many ways managers can boost employee retention, and most of them can also improve your company culture.  For example, giving employees more opportunities to connect during meetings or creating open feedback channels to see how you can improve operations help build team spirit and collaboration. Here's how this can help retain your best folks.

🗣 Open feedback channels between managers and staff 

When employees decide to leave, it's rarely an overnight decision. Gallup reports that 43% of ex-employees admit to telling a coworker they wanted to leave before they put in their notice.

When the lines of communication are open in a healthy workplace, management can often detect dissatisfaction and proactively implement solutions. One way to open communication is through regular, insightful, and easy-to-complete surveys. For example, pulse surveys are short, regularly occurring surveys that quickly gauge anything from how employees are feeling that week to whether they feel management cares about them.

Another option is an Open Forum, which lets team members voice their opinion and anonymously offer suggestions to senior management, who can then begin a conversation with you. 

👂Provide empathetic support

When a workplace takes active steps to ensure all voices get heard, it can help reduce burnout or the build-up of stressful scenarios that management can quickly remedy.

With increased stress since the start of the pandemic, it's important to regularly check in on your staff, even for topics unrelated to work. Polly provides an easy way to keep in touch, get instant results, and see trends of employee feedback data over time. With regular, simple survey responses, you can identify and address issues before they snowball.

💪 Empower management to resolve issues

A team is often better off when team leaders are empowered to take matters into their own hands and resolve challenges, whether those are scheduling complaints, employee disputes, or someone feeling overwhelmed. Let the people closest to the team flex their creative problem-solving muscles without too much red tape, and watch their leadership abilities and motivation continue to grow!

💬 Create ways for employees to connect

In a remote or hybrid office, it's key to encourage connection between team members. Employees can't grab an office friend for a fun lunch on their way out or stop by someone's desk to chat about their day. To make the workplace a fun environment where everyone feels comfortable, you need to build opportunities to relax and bond into the workday.

For example, use icebreaker questions, which are lighthearted, get-to-know-you questions, before your weekly staff meeting. One of our favorites: "Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?" Or, send a hot take where team members vote on whether they agree with a controversial statement, like "Cats make the most loyal pets."

When employees engage with each other in a fun, low-stakes way, they tend to collaborate more easily as well as bond and enjoy work more.

🏆 Provide recognition and reward

Polly AwardsWhen workers feel engaged and purposeful, they tend to stay. Staff awards are one way you can show your team members you value their contributions.

Whether you award them a just-for-fun Giphy Master title or an award specifically related to their work like “top sales of the week”. It’s a cool way to say thank you and help team members bond.

Polly has tools to help managers consistently recognize their team's contributions

📚 Continue to coach

Investing in the growth and development of the team is a pillar of workplace satisfaction. Showing up to work each day without coaching, training, or supportive tools from senior leadership can lead to some of your hardest-working team members scanning the jobs tab on LinkedIn.

Managers don't need to focus on performance management solely. They can help make each team member's experience more meaningful by knowing their goals, actively removing obstacles, and cheering them towards the next level. Make this shift in thinking a clear priority across all management groups, and it becomes embedded in the culture.

Why the employee experience is critical to company culture

Team members in different parts of the worldUnderstanding the deeper needs of your team is a surefire way to increase morale and create a better workplace. However, the positive impact of a focused employee experience strategy becomes larger when managers have the right tools. 

Companies who continue to invest in talent retention strategies see how their effort leads to a thriving culture. Set team members up for success from their first day with proper onboarding and supportive engagement tools like Polly.

Want to know how Polly can help you create a happier, more cohesive team? Sign up for an instant free trial, and we'll show you the many ways you can strengthen connections which naturally helps to retain your top talent.

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