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5 turnover excuses your managers should never make

High employee turnover can have a negative impact on your company culture, your customers and, ultimately, your bottom line. So, identifying and correcting any underlying problems that may be causing increased attrition is critical to keeping your business on track.

One thing to consider: Are your managers the problem?

When you start digging beneath the surface, you may find it difficult to get answers from your managers, but don’t be discouraged. You can uncover key opportunities to improve your organization and retain good employees when you look beyond these common excuses.

1. It’s all about the money

At the end of the day, most of us are trading time for dollars when it comes to our work. And although everybody wants to be paid fairly for a job well done, dismissing employee attrition as nothing more than a money issue is at the top of the list of managerial cop-outs.

You may hear managers say things like, “We don’t pay enough,” or “They wanted more money.” While this may be true in some cases, it’s highly unlikely that money is the only reason for consistent turnover. Today’s job seekers are looking for more than money, and failing to recognize that can be costly.

2. They weren’t motivated

Maybe so, but why weren’t they motivated? Employees usually begin a new job with excitement and enthusiasm. Over time, that zeal can diminish if they feel disengaged or they’re not empowered to do their best work.

Whether it’s the result of an inadequate onboarding process, a poorly defined career path or some other reason, chances are they wouldn’t have lost interest if they’d been properly set up for success.

3. They weren’t a good fit

Finding the right fit is a skill in itself, one that requires careful thought and planning. The ideal candidate doesn’t just magically appear. If you’re seeing a trend of managers hiring people who fall short of expectations, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your recruiting strategy or at least revisit it with decision-makers.

Maybe the job description didn’t list all the duties and skills needed to be successful. Or, maybe the manager didn’t dedicate enough time to interviewing and made a rushed hiring decision.

And if they weren’t the hiring manager but were tasked with supervising an employee who didn’t have the necessary skills or the right attitude, did they do everything they could to support them before it became a problem?

4. It’s only a couple of employees

Sometimes mid-level managers are so focused on their department’s role or their day-to-day tasks that they lose sight of the big picture. You may need to help them understand that, whether it’s one person or 10, losing employees creates a ripple effect throughout the organization. Turnover impacts everything from morale and engagement level to productivity and – when it’s high – the company’s bottom line. It’s a big deal.

5. Turnover is good for the company

Even when an employee isn’t living up to expectations, replacing them still comes at a price. You have to consider recruiting costs and lost productivity in the interim – not to mention the extra burden placed on remaining employees who may be the next to go if they’re overworked.

That’s not to say that welcoming new employees with fresh ideas and different perspectives isn’t good for the company. But the turnover itself, along with whatever caused it, is usually a different story.

Turn excuses into empowerment

Once you’ve identified that a manager is making excuses about high turnover, you have a unique opportunity to turn the negative into a positive for all parties – you, the manager, their direct reports and the company. It’s your time to shine and lead by example by being the kind of leader that you want them to be with the employees they oversee. Consider these suggestions:

Pay attention to patterns and trends

High turnover isn’t an isolated incident, so look for employee attrition that’s recurring and consistent over time. Use HR solutions and resources that make it easy to track this sort of data across departments, positions and managers without taking a lot of your time. Objective data takes emotion out of the equation and gives you a solid foundation for proactively addressing issues with managers.

Keep in mind that there are some positions and career fields that inherently have higher-than-average turnover, especially those with high levels of stress or burnout (e.g., air traffic controllers, hazardous waste technicians, frontline workers, etc.).

Be an astute observer

Attitudes and personalities are a core component of your company culture. That dynamic can make or break the office environment. Do you notice any tension between certain employees or departments? Are managers eager to address issues or nonchalant about them?

Provide clear direction and set expectations

Nobody’s a mind-reader. Be respectful but clear in communicating your expectations of managers. Give them actionable steps or goals and a timeline for getting things done. Hold them accountable, but also give them a chance to improve if needed.

It’s not about pointing fingers, but helping managers see how their actions tie back to the value of the organization. It’s important they understand that if the company as a whole isn’t seen as a good place to work, it makes hiring more difficult.

Give and seek frequent feedback

Are you letting managers know how they’re doing, and counseling and coaching them as needed? Are they mirroring those same traits with employees? Are you seeing proof of that in feedback you receive from employees? Just as you provide consistent verbal and written feedback to your managers, they should be doing the same with their direct reports.

Don’t become complacent when turnover is low

While low turnover is good, it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Employees may still be interested in or looking for other opportunities but just haven’t made a move yet. An unfavorable job market or personal circumstances (e.g., family illness, financial commitments, etc.) could be the only thing keeping them in their current role. Stay interviews are a smart way to check the pulse of employee morale and satisfaction before issues become a bigger problem.

Create a culture of success

  • If it’s broken, fix it: Change your approach; try something different. For example, instead of communicating objectives with managers via email, you could schedule regular face-to-face meetings weekly or bimonthly. The simple act of making time for someone can make them feel supported and understood, and motivate them to improve.
  • Take the guesswork out of managing: Don’t expect supervisors to figure things out on their own. Have protocols and programs in place that explicitly spell out proper conduct, processes and policies – and update them regularly.
  • Minimize the learning curve: Develop and implement an onboarding process that helps new employees get up to speed faster. You might also consider developing a mentoring program.
  • Conduct regular checkups: Make it your business to know how employees are performing, and what they’re thinking and feeling. Performance reviews, as well as stay and exit interviews, provide valuable feedback and insight you can act on.
  • Get social and stay connected: Establish a company alumni network, whether it’s through a Facebook page or regular meetups. You’ll leave the door open for good employees to come back or refer other quality candidates.

Reduced turnover yields many benefits

For starters, your employees will likely be more engaged and collaborative. You’ll probably also see a significant reduction in costs because you’re not having to spend as much of your budget on recruiting and training new employees. There’s less time lost due to the learning curve. Productivity usually increases as a result of tenured employees who have the experience to do their jobs well. You create an environment where everybody’s pulling their weight, which translates into higher job satisfaction, better performance and a smoother-running business.

Want additional tips for building employee engagement? Download our free magazine, The Insperity Guide to Employee Engagement.