The 7 deadly sins behind high staff turnover – and how to avoid them   

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Many factors contribute to high staff turnover – but while some may be inevitable, such as retirement, a change in career, or even moving away, others can be controlled.   

Here are seven major factors in the workplace that could lead to a high staff turnover, from lack of opportunities and purpose, to overworked employees, all of which contribute to huge employee turnover costs.  

1. Little opportunity for growth 

If employees don’t see opportunities to progress in their roles, they will likely feel stuck and underappreciated. A different company that can offer a role of higher authority will eventually become more appealing after plenty of time in the same role – not only for income but to further demonstrate their skills.   

Offering promotions for existing employees rather than hiring externally is one way to provide opportunities for growth. Communication is key in this instance to ensure that staff have clarity on how they need to perform in order for this to be possible, for example, a checklist of targets over a realistic time frame – this way, both you and the employees can assess how close they are to the next step.

Alternatively, providing relevant training courses for staff allows them to educate themselves and stay up to date with the sector, thus being an excellent opportunity for growth.   

2. Lack of feedback   

Offering feedback to employees is a small implementation that can go far – not only does it show recognition, but it’s also a huge factor that can help them succeed.  Regular 1-2-1s are an excellent opportunity to provide feedback, as it gives employees the chance to address any areas they are particularly struggling in.  

As an employer, the purpose is not to provide top-down performance feedback, assess the company’s performance, or evaluate the status of certain projects. Instead, the employee needs to take centre stage. You should ask questions to discover more about their goals and ambitions, as well as any concerns or pain points. 

3. Micromanagement   

Micromanagement can have huge implications that can drive employees away. Not only does it limit creativity, but it also implies that you don’t trust employees to make the right decisions on their own. Micromanagement can also lead to burnout, which not only affects productivity and company success, but the employee will likely consider joining a company that offers a more supportive approach to management. 

In summary, it is wise to avoid micromanagement. Although it can be daunting to let go of projects, delegating to your team members will allow employees to feel valued, trusted and therefore, confident to complete the task. Seeing your employees complete these tasks will help you to see their skills first-hand and allow for timely feedback.

Managing expectations instead of tasks is essential to zone out of the micromanagement phase and offer more freedom to employees.

Before giving a task to a team member, clarify your thoughts and goals and then communicate them clearly. This enhances communication between yourself and the employee and allows them to have clear structure before you trust them with the task. 

4. Lack of flexible working   

Flexible working can help those working around unreliable public transport, the school run  – or even the demands of their pets.

Flexible working will make employees more autonomous so they can set their own schedules and enjoy a healthier work-life balance. Without it, employees may turn to a different company that does provide this benefit.   

A good first step is for employers to select the core working hours in which every employee must be present – then, outside of this, allow employees to decide when they start and finish.

Hybrid working is another proven way to give employees more control. It can also increase productivity and is fast becoming a must-have with job-seekers.   

5. Overworking employees   

There are times when employees will have additional responsibilities due to new projects or if the workforce is contracting through redundancies.

Managers must monitor the workload of all employees and find ways to protect them from burnout and stress caused by unavoidable workloads.

On the other hand, employees must have enough work and understand their contribution to the make-up of the organisation’s overall mission, vision, and success.  

A preventative employee well-being strategy is vital to understand how employees are feeling. It’s crucial to offer early support to employees who are feeling stressed, burnt out, or disengaged, which could be related to their workload.   

This is another area where regular 1-1s are highly useful to pick up signs of strain. You can use this time to ask questions to your employee about how they are finding the workload and alter it based on their answers.

You might also consider running pulse surveys at regular intervals to gauge the mood across the team, division or company.

6. Feeling undervalued and unappreciated 

Free lunches and table football are great, but they barely scratch the surface when it comes to creating a culture where employees feel appreciated, cared for, and understood. If employees feel their work is not valued and their contributions go unnoticed, they are likely to lack motivation and may consider leaving their current role for a job that is more rewarding and enjoyable.  

Understanding an employee’s concerns, values, needs, and hopes for the future is crucial to retain your top talent. Efforts should be made to communicate and understand individuals’ needs and inspirations, so their hard work can be recognised in a way that has the maximum impact. 

7. Failing to act on the warning signs

The points above are real-life observations of the factors causing employers to suffer an exodus of staff.

The object lesson is that managers and employers must consider the reasons for high employee turnover, particularly if they are due to factors that can be prevented in the future.

This requires spotting signs at the earliest opportunity and having a true understanding of employee concerns. High staff turnover not only affects the efficiency of a business, but also comes at a huge cost.

Much better to take steps to present it in the first place.

About the author   

 Antony Thompson is the founder of Loopin, an Ai predictive people software that helps businesses to foresee risks in burnout, engagement, productivity and turnover. 

AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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