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The blame game: Passing the buck on employee turnover


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By Roberta Chinsky Matuson

Lately, people have been talking about an increase of employee turnover in their organizations. Here are their responses when asked why they believe this is so - we call this "The Blame Game:"

1. It was simply a bad batch of new hires — If only this were true. Could it be possible that something has changed in your organization? Have the needs of the organization changed but the hiring profile has stayed the same? Have you stopped holding managers accountable for their hiring decisions? Are you failing to provide interviewing training for newly promoted or hired managers?

2. The employees we hired were the best of the bunch — If that is truly the case, it's time to begin thinking about ways to increase applicant flow so you have more choices. There are a number of things that can be done regardless of budget. The solution may be as simple as asking your employees for referrals. Or perhaps your needs may require a more strategic approach.

3. If they stay for a year we will have gotten our money's worth — Would your stakeholders agree if they knew how much the company is losing whenever an employee walks out the door? Begin by quantifying the cost of replacing an employee when someone leaves your organization. Do you still believe you have gotten your money's worth?

4. This is the best we can hire given our pay ranges — Granted, money is usually not the main reason employees leave their jobs. However, let's be real. People want to be adequately compensated for their efforts. If employees are continually leaving your firm for more money, then it's time to look at reallocating resources. You can probably survive if you don't replace the three-year old copy machine in the mailroom with a model that costs significantly more. Take the money saved and reallocate it to your merit budget.

5. These are only entry-level positions, so who cares? — Your customers care, so maybe you should as well. Companies spare no expense when it comes to hiring their executives, yet so little is invested when hiring front-line people like cashiers, bank tellers, and receptionists. Clients communicate with these people more often than with the CFO. In many cases, these employees are the only people customers interact with. Perhaps it's time to rethink your position on the hiring of entry-level personnel.

6. Our turnover has always been high — Congratulations for maintaining your position. Maybe it's time to give someone else an opportunity to take home the award for high turnover. Right now there are a bunch of employees in your organization who are thinking about leaving. If you want to keep these people, you must find the root causes of their dissatisfaction. The best way to do so is to ask employees why they are considering leaving. Retention surveys are a great way to quickly gather this information. It's no secret that employees will respond more honestly when this is done by an outside firm, so don't even think about attempting this on your own.

7. Even though employee turnover at our company is 40 percent, we are still below the industry average — Would you be so accepting if this year's revenues were down by 40 percent, even if it were a little better than the industry average? Of course not - you'd be bringing in teams of people to get you out of this tailspin. You can begin to pull yourself away from the pack by paying attention to factors like employee fit and well-trained managers, which are key contributors to employee retention. Don't know how to approach this? Call in an expert.

8. If it doesn't work out, we can always replace these people — Yes, but at what cost? Will your most valued clients hang around while you replace their main contact person for the third time this year? Do you have the resources to source for new candidates or have these people left as well? Consistency is key for most organizations and it's impossible to maintain if your workforce is in a constant state of change.

9. We don't have the staff to address this issue right now — You cannot afford to wait. You don't have to go this alone. Bring in an expert who can design a strategy and implement a program that will help you prevent this situation from happening time and time again.

10. It is no big deal — If this were not a big deal, you wouldn't have finished reading this article. This problem can be fixed if you are open to making changes. What do you have to lose?

It's easy to place blame for employee turnover on all of these factors. However, this approach doesn't position you well to win the game on customer satisfaction, employee retention, and increased profitability. It's your move.

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the principal of Human Resource Solutions and is also a NEHRA member. She can be reached at roberta@yourhrexperts.com or (617) 566-8978..

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