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Why Turnover Is One of the Most Complex Staffing Problems to Solve

June 16, 2016

complexity.jpgToo often, companies seek simple solutions for reducing turnover that ultimately are not successful. In many cases, they may try to enhance their staffing processes in an effort to identify candidates who are less likely to turnover. This may include implementing assessment tools and/or structured interviewing, hoping that the solution to their turnover problem only has to do with selecting better candidates.

The problem with viewing turnover as simply a staffing issue is that it is really a multi-faceted problem with any number of root causes, and finding an effective solution often requires looking outside of the staffing process.

For example, a competitor may be offering similar job openings down the street at significantly higher pay rates. Or the work environment at the company in question may be so poor that most employees do not want to stick around for very long. In such cases, the company culture, climate, and/or management practices will need to change in order to retain more employees.

One initial step that can be taken to better understand the turnover problem and find an effective solution to solve it is to try to understand whether most cases of turnover in the company are voluntary versus involuntary. Involuntary turnover is most often caused by issues such as lack of productivity, frequent absences or tardiness, or counterproductive work behaviors.

Voluntary turnover, on the other hand, is a bit more complex. While it can be influenced by poor selection practices – not hiring people who are a good fit with the organization, for example – it is also frequently influenced by the work environment or external market factors such as competitor pay rates. Even if you have the best possible staffing process in place that identifies the most qualified job candidates, employees will leave the company if they don’t like working there or if they find out they can earn significantly more money for the same job somewhere else.

Exit interviews are an excellent place to start the data gathering process because many employees who leave are forthcoming regarding why. A market analysis can also help uncover how your pay rates compare to competitors for similar jobs. Finally, evaluating what is working well and what needs to improve regarding company culture and management practices (e.g., with a culture survey) can help uncover issues that can be addressed to improve the work environment.

In sum, turnover is a very complex issue that can have any number of root causes, and it really benefits companies to do some up-front data gathering on why it is occurring before deciding what to do about it. While turnover can often be reduced by enhancing the staffing process, or by improving training and development programs to help keep employees engaged, these programs will simply not work if other factors are contributing more to the problem and go unaddressed. Ultimately choosing the right approach to reducing turnover needs to start with an accurate diagnosis of the problem.

turnover reduction

John Fernandez, Ph.D. John Fernandez, Ph.D. was a Senior Consultant at PSI and lead the implementation of assessment programs for both selection and development. John has extensive experience working as an internal expert within HR for large companies to deliver large scale, global assessment solutions. John’s areas of expertise include project management, job analysis, assessment design & validation, and presentation of assessment results to sponsors.