Five Strategies for Reducing Unwanted Turnover

By Posted in - Talent Management on March 14th, 2011 1 Comments

In my last post I talked about organizational forces that contribute to unwanted turnover.  In this post I would like to talk about strategies for actually reducing unwanted turnover.  While there are many possible strategies an organization might pursue to reduce unwanted turnover, I would like to focus on five key areas:

  • Early Interventions
  • Skill Interventions
  • Leadership Interventions
  • Rewards/Recognition Interventions
  • Selection Interventions

Early interventions – The fact that large numbers of employees turnover in the first six months of employment suggests that this is a critical time for helping people adjust to new roles.  Effective on-boarding programs should cover this critical period.  A good on-boarding program helps prevent misunderstandings, gradually introduces the employee into the organization, and provides just in time information and training.  Most importantly, establish a support system for the new employee.   A good practice is to set up a “buddy” system for new employees.  A “buddy” is a seasoned employee who volunteers to “look out for the new employee,” making introductions, providing advice and helping avoid early pitfalls.

Skill interventions – Keep employees motivated and committed by enthusiastically offering training and development opportunities.  Smart companies know the importance of personal development in employee retention.  Top rated companies to work for have several qualities in common. They spend considerable time in training their people, they have low turnover rates, and they have impressive numbers of applicants per job opening.

Leadership interventions – Better bosses mean lower turnover.  Establishing performance expectations, providing coaching and positive feedback, and interacting in a fair and considerate manner are all things that good leaders do to help new employees be successful and receive enjoyment from their jobs.  To impact turnover, make sure that supervisory promotion and training programs have interpersonal skills as part of their focus.  Measure employee perceptions of leadership behaviors and incorporate behavioral expectations into leaders’ performance management expectations. 

Rewards/recognition interventions – Various kinds of contingent bonus strategies can be used to help with retention.  Deferred bonuses are paid out incrementally with a significant back-end payoff for a combination of performance and retention.  This type of bonus system can help guarantee service for a finite number of years but doesn’t address long term retention.  Performance bonuses can help an employee reach high levels of income providing they can consistently demonstrate superior levels of performance.  This type of bonus can be very effective if performance metrics are readily available and additional costs are consistent with the value of superior performance.    If you can’t afford to pay more, or offer contingent pay, don’t forget the value of non-monetary or symbolic rewards like time-off, awards and other recognition programs.

Selection interventions – Perhaps the most powerful weapon against turnover is improved selection.  A well-known consulting company documented 21 studies of the impact on turnover of introducing a structured interviewing selection system.  Improving interviewing procedures reduced turnover rates on average a whopping 42%.   Putting the right person in the right job at the right time is key to effective talent management and to preventing unwanted turnover.

Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

About Patrick Hauenstein, Ph.D.

Patrick Hauenstein is the President and Chief Science Officer for OMNIview. During his free time Pat likes to cook. He is particularly fond of traditional southern cuisine. Pat is also an animal lover ...
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