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Is All Turnover Bad?

April 7, 2015

turnoverDespite being an inevitability in any organization, turnover wouldn’t rank very highly on any human resources professional’s list of favorite activities. On a good day, dealing with the issues created by turnover can be tedious at best, and on a bad day, downright loathsome. However, there are two sides to every story, and the story of turnover in the modern organization is no different.

Good vs. Bad Turnover

Both good and bad turnover usually include a fair amount of busy work, but positive and negative outcomes can result based on the specific circumstances surrounding the turnover. Good turnover covers a myriad of situations, but can be summed up by saying that it occurs when an employee leaves the company, either voluntarily or involuntarily, to the benefit of the organization. Maybe an individual that was lazy, behaving inappropriately, or otherwise not fitting into your organization’s culture volunteered to take his talents elsewhere. Or perhaps your organization is exploding in terms of growth, and moving to a new skyscraper downtown means losing a couple of employees. Maybe a low performer that has gone through all of the training and remedial resources available but still just isn’t meeting expectations and has to be let go. Due to the very nature of turnover, these scenarios all have a tinge of unpleasantness but in the big picture help make your organization more effective, productive, and successful overall.

Bad turnover, the more salient type, covers just as wide a variety of scenarios. Let’s say your highest performer was being headhunted and decided to leave for a better opportunity – that’s turnover. Or perhaps low profits last year lead to downsizing across the organization. Maybe the newest group of hires performs exceptionally poorly and an extra round of hiring needs to take place. Or maybe a poor employee who has been terminated attempts to file suit against the organization after leaving. All of these scenarios are examples of the negative aspects of turnover, not including the headaches associated with it such as additional paperwork, unpleasant conversations, and potentially even legal issues.

So How Do I Decrease Bad Turnover?

No human resources professional wants to jump through the hoops associated with any of the bad turnover situations. Fortunately, combating bad turnover is not strictly a reactive endeavor, there are proactive steps that can be taken to ensure that your organization has to deal with bad turnover as infrequently as possible. The first and foremost way to decrease bad turnover is through employee selection. Utilizing assessments that select for the highest performers, best fits, or otherwise good employees is the first step to ensuring that the fewest number of poor employees step foot in your company to begin with.

The next step is to see to it that the hiring process is as transparent as possible so that at no point during the process are candidates misled or otherwise caused to believe that the content of the work or the culture of the organization will be different than it actually is. This is to ensure that you are only hiring applicants who know that they can do the job and know that this company’s atmosphere is one that will mesh well with their personality.

Finally, regular formal performance reviews, and perhaps informal “check-ins” with employees will help ensure that they are meeting expectations, as well as show the employees that your organization cares about them past the bottom line, making them less likely to ditch you for a better opportunity.

These are just a few ways that an organization can maximize positives instances of turnover and minimize negative ones. What other ways can you think of?

Want to take a deeper dive into turnover? Click the button below to watch our webinar about the steps you can take to reduce turnover in your organization:

turnover reduction


Greg Kedenburg Greg Kedenburg is an I/O Psychologist who previously worked for PSI. He is living and working in Chicago, IL.