picresized_1349106168_iStock_unhappy employee

Let’s face it, high employee turnover hurts your bottom line. Research suggests it costs between one and a half and two times an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. Turnover can also damage morale among remaining employees and create concerns with clients.

While “losing the losers” can be a good thing and some turnover is healthy, your A and B players jumping ship to join your competitors warrants your attention. Here are five common signs to help you diagnose employee-turnover issues and what you can do to reduce them.

Symptom 1: The wrong fit = You hired the wrong person.

Whether it’s the actual job, the company or the culture in the workplace, poor job fit is one of the most common reasons people leave. This is usually a result of a poor interview process with a lack of well thought-out interview questions.

People quit because they are dissatisfied with the company or their current role, or because they are not well suited to the requirements of the job. For example, Jane is a strategist and implementer, so she excels when she can determine objectives and tactics to get her team to succeed. But in her current role, she is expected to be a politician campaigning for results, which proves frustrating.

Examine your corporate culture, be honest and identify job-interview questions that will allow you to find candidates who will excel in your environment. Make sure candidates not only fit the job skills but also the management style, culture and values of your business.

Symptom 2: They don’t have the resources they need = You are not setting them up for success.

Nobody likes to be unproductive or set up to fail. This is why having the right resources, tools and training to do the job become critical to retaining top talent. After a period of time, if your people have been working with antiquated technology and processes or do not have the training to satisfy your clients, they will become frustrated and eventually leave. Whether it’s technology, systems, approval processes or just internal training that can be covered during a basic orientation, people want to be effective and productive. Ensure they have the tools and training available to them.

Symptom 3: They have no idea = You are not setting expectations or providing feedback.

When employees don’t know what’s expected of them, they can just blunder away working on tasks that do not meet your expectations. In turn, you get frustrated and determine the employee isn’t working out. But the employee is likely thinking, “This employer has not told me what he wants or who I can go to for help—and I am afraid to ask questions. As a result, I will keep doing what I can until I am told otherwise.”

You need to set clear expectations and provide feedback on how your people are doing. A lack of appreciation is another common reason for turnover. With no appreciation or constructive feedback, people won’t feel vested in the business. If you don’t care either way, neither will they.

Finally, when you don’t deal with poor performers and you let these employees coast along, your top performers notice. In fact, they are likely wondering why they should bust their butts to go above and beyond when nobody seems to care.

You need to ensure you set clear performance expectations, have regular discussions about results, and provide coaching and feedback to deal with performance issues.

Symptom 4: They are bored = You are not providing challenge, learning or future growth opportunities.

This symptom is classic. You have a top performer who is delivering consistent results and you are happy with them, so you leave them alone. But they are so bored that they drive into work every day thinking they would love to just keep on driving and go fishing for the day.

Top performers need to be learning new skills, be presented with new challenges or projects to ensure they continue to grow. Beyond this, you should also be having conversations with them about their career path. Where do they aspire do go professionally in two to five years and how can you help them get there? Fail to provide these things and your top performers are likely to start looking where the grass is greener, or where the fish are biting.

Symptom 5: They just don’t like you = Your management sucks.

Your employees are happy with their salary, their jobs and future prospects, but their front-line manager (the person they report to directly) sucks.

It is critical to keep in mind that a staff members’ relationship with their front-line manager is the biggest driver of employee satisfaction. The root cause of the issue is most often poor management, with staff who are afraid to “rock the boat” and tell you so.

Ensure you are creating an open climate of performance evaluation that is not just a one-way street to the employee. You need to ask staff to evaluate their managers and create a climate where they can open up and tell you the truth, without fear.

So now that you have evaluated the top five symptoms to diagnose employee turnover, you need to stop the revolving door. Hire the right people and be sure to develop and challenge them. Find out how they feel about their jobs by giving them a way to communicate openly with you. Depending on the climate, you may want to start with an anonymous comment box, then progress to an online employee engagement survey, focus groups and eventually full 360-degree performance evaluations.

Remember that each individual is unique. You need to be honest with your people (and yourself), set clear expectations, give feedback and ask questions. Hopefully you’re up to the challenge. Otherwise, your top talent might continue through the revolving door straight to your competition.

Derek Gagné is president of Vancouver-based talent management consultancy Derekgagne.com. He has been helping organizations with their recruitment and retention strategies for more than 15 years. His areas of expertise include workforce planning, recruitment, retention, leadership development, organization development and customer service.

More columns by Derek Gagné

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