15 Smart Ways To Address High Employee Turnover

Originally published by Forbes.com

Loren Margolis, Founder & Managing Director, TLS Leaders

High turnover is a sign that something has gone wrong within a company’s culture. It’s typically an indicator of a larger problem, whether it be employee burnout, a lack of competitive compensation, disorganized leadership or other issues affecting employees’ day-to-day experience at work.

As a leader, it’s important to figure out what the problem is and take steps to solve it. This might require looking inward and taking stock of what your role has been in perpetuating a negative culture, or it may involve speaking with employees individually to see how you can start to change things for the better. Below, 15 Forbes Coaches Council members share advice for addressing an increasing turnover rate and actionable steps leaders can take to try and stop it.

1. Look At How Core Values And Rewarded Behaviors Align
Team members don’t leave their jobs; they leave their bosses. High turnover is an indicator of broader organizational cultural issues. Team members want to be seen, heard and valued —when they are not, they leave. The first step is taking a hard look at the alignment between organizational values and the behaviors that are being rewarded, as well as the behaviors that are being ignored. – Dennis Volpe, LRI

2. Examine The Company Culture
High employee turnover is a symptom of a much larger problem, and leaders must explore the root cause. The worst problem you can have, and what the highest turnover can be attributed to, is a bad culture. Leaders need to examine their culture through employee conversations, watching their teams interact and exit interviews. Only through curiosity will they determine the cause of the turnover. – JC Glick, Prodromos Leadership

3. Begin A ‘Listening Tour’
Begin a “listening tour” pronto. Be authentic. Tell employees that you don’t have all the answers, and you need their collaboration to solve the challenges. Talk and listen to those who have left, as well as existing employees. Listen to people managers; listen to top performers; listen to folks in critical roles. Set up a “squad” to solve the issues from the ground up. – DN Prasad, GovTech, Singapore

4. Address The Issue Immediately With Senior Leaders
Address the issue immediately with the senior leaders at the company. When we are past apples falling, and the roots of the tree are rotting, it’s time to examine what senior leadership is not doing well (or at all) regarding employee retention. This goes far beyond talent acquisition teams, who normally receive the brunt of the blow, and becomes everyone’s problem to solve. – Joshua Miller, Joshua Miller Executive Coaching

5. Align Employees’ Strengths With Organizational Needs
Employee disengagement is the leading cause of high turnover at companies. To fix this massive issue, leaders need to check in with their employees by asking them what they want and how they enjoy leveraging their strengths. The leader’s job is to then align their skills and interests with the organization’s needs. In doing this, employees will quickly become more engaged with their work. – Robin Pou, The Confident Leader

6. Use Anonymous Questionnaires
The first thing to do is to open your ears and listen to determine where the reasons for high turnover lie. Ensure psychological safety so that employees can freely state what they are hesitant to say. If you are not sure whether people will speak up in interviews, for example, you can also use questionnaires that can be submitted anonymously. Then, discuss the necessary actions openly with the leadership team. – Hayato Yasuzawa, 116 Coaching & Partners LLC

7. Show That You Value The Team’s Contributions
I’ve seen a lot of leaders place the blame on the team, but it’s important to look at the culture and the demands being placed on people. As a leader, strive to create a culture where people feel that their contributions are valued. Money only goes so far. At the end of the day, people want to feel that their talents are being fully utilized. – Stacey Ackerman, NavigateAgile

8. Invest In Employees’ Professional Development
Besides poor leadership, high employee turnover is an indicator that a company neglects the professional development of its people. Employees will leave if they don’t feel appreciated and challenged. Leaders need to invest time in the development of their employees, especially top performers and those with high potential. The sense of advancement and growth will lead to increased engagement and productivity. – Anna Barnhill, Barnhill Group Consulting, Inc.

9. Conduct ‘Stay’ Interviews
Find out what keeps people in the organization. You need to know if it’s because of loyalty and trust or compliance and the need for a paycheck. Ask, “What is the No. 1 action we could take as an organization to make this a better place for you to work?” Find the themes and then take decisive action to improve employees’ experience. – Justin Patton, justinpatton.com

10. Offer Competitive Compensation, Growth Opportunities And Flexibility
To combat high employee turnover, leaders should analyze root causes, refine recruitment and foster a positive culture. Offering competitive compensation, growth opportunities and flexibility enhances satisfaction. Regular evaluations, clear career paths and prompt addressing of concerns all contribute to retaining talent, reducing turnover and creating an engaged workforce. – Savannah Rayat, Rayat Leadership Coaching

11. Perform An ‘Employee Loss Autopsy’
“Employee loss autopsy” is a term I use for conducting a thorough investigation that doesn’t try to place blame but rather to surface knowledge. Review workplace systems, leadership effectiveness, physical environmental challenges, pay and benefits, equity, inclusiveness, sustainability, workplace culture and more. Determine the causes of turnover and implement organization-wide preventive solutions. – Daphne Michaels, Daphne Michaels International

12. Contextualize Gathered Data To Understand The Problem
Pause; be curious about finding data and reflect on the context of it before jumping into action. Reflecting on the data gleaned from pulse surveys and exit interviews can be a useful way of contextualizing employee turnover and understanding where the problem lies, be it with a specific leader, a talent attraction strategy that needs to be reviewed, or an issue in the wider market or sector. – Shamila Mhearban, The Leadership Growth Hub

13. Have Senior Management Acknowledge The Problem
If high employee turnover is a major problem, it is very serious. First and foremost, senior management has to acknowledge this (surprisingly, they often don’t), and then take steps to alleviate it. Find out the true causes. Talk not just to each other, but also to the employees involved and the outside vendors (in case they have seen things), and then—most importantly—fully address the root causes! – Ash Varma, Varma & Associates

14. Create Accountability Programs For Leaders
Understand what the root cause of the turnover is. There could be many reasons, such as poor leadership, poor communication, poor engagement or poor remuneration. Often, it is poor leadership that drives employees away. If this is the case, create programs to keep the leaders accountable for improving their management style and creating a positive work environment. – Dorota Klop-Sowinska, DoSo! Coaching

15. Help Employees Grow Their Careers
Lack of career growth is one of the top reasons for turnover, according to a study by McKinsey. Create leaders who believe that developing employees is equally as important as driving performance. Integrate career development conversations into performance reviews. Ask how they want to grow, create stretch projects, provide training or mentoring, and have them shadow you. Follow up quarterly to ensure they’re growing and feel supported. – Loren Margolis, TLS Leaders LLC