When a company is experiencing high attrition rates, it isn’t always easy to pinpoint the reason (or reasons) employees are leaving. Countless factors can influence someone’s decision to stay at or leave their place of employment; some are within the organization’s control, and some are not. However, when a company is seeing steady turnover, there are likely one or more underlying problems that are happening on the inside. It’s critical for leadership to identify those issues to prevent even more employees from leaving—especially in today’s tight workers’ market.
If your company is struggling with steady or growing employee turnover rates, try these 15 strategies from the members of Fast Company Executive Board to get to the root of the problem. The sooner you discover the cause(s), the sooner you can implement real solutions.
1. CHECK IN WITH CURRENT AND DEPARTING EMPLOYEES.
Spend time on understanding the reasons people are leaving. Ask them for their honest feedback, and be truly open to it. People will tell you a lot during their exit interview if they feel that you are sincere and there won’t be any retaliation later. Additionally, having regular personal check-ins with your team can alert you to negativity and systemic issues before it’s too late. – Jana Vondran, Ingram Micro
2. PRE-STRUCTURE THE EXIT INTERVIEW.
Pre-structure exit interviews to create a comfortable environment for authentic and honest conversation. Set up the model so that you can ask both questions about the specific issues that you feel be may the reasons why they are leaving as well as typical questions about why they’re going. “Stockholm Syndrome” can happen—these honest answers will allow you to see if it is you or something else. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
3. COLLECT BOTH QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE DATA.
Step one is to interview those leaving. We use a structured exit interview to collect both qualitative and quantitative information on why the employee is leaving. This lets us not only understand each individual’s story but also look for trends across employees that may warrant investigation. – Jake Carter, Credera
4. TRULY LISTEN TO FORMER EMPLOYEES.
Feedback from departing employees is a valuable gift. Make exit interviews standard and truly listen to what former employees are saying. Team members, both current and former, can be the best advertisement for a company they love—or a tremendous hindrance for one they don’t. – Jessica Federer, Boston Millennia
5. OFFER A WAY FOR DEPARTING AND FORMER EMPLOYEES TO ANONYMOUSLY GIVE FEEDBACK.
Offer a safe and confidential exit interview for those who are departing. Often, employees who are leaving organizations are too intimidated to communicate their feelings with their direct supervisors or even with HR. If there is an anonymous way for former employees or departing employees to provide their feedback, you would get a very transparent response. – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB
6. CONDUCT ‘STAY’ INTERVIEWS.
Combine exit interviews with each individual who leaves with “stay” interviews. I believe it is really helpful to understand what is keeping people at the company and what would cause them to consider leaving well before someone gives notice. You can do this by interviewing people yourself, training managers to conduct “stay” interviews, and/or leveraging anonymous surveys. – Carl Oliveri, Robin
7. START A CONVERSATION WITH CURRENT TEAM MEMBERS.
Create an open dialogue with your team from the start, and don’t be afraid to talk to them about how they feel about their jobs. You don’t need to beat around the bush. If they feel underpaid or undervalued, let them know how you see them and what they could do differently to advance. You may be taking them for granted without knowing it, which is something that needs correcting ASAP. – Jason Hall, Five Channels
8. DISCUSS AND ADDRESS INDIVIDUAL CONCERNS.
Have individual meetings with your team members and discuss any concerns they may have. Find out how they are really doing. If something is happening in the workplace that you weren’t aware of, see if there’s anything you as a leader can do to either help them or address it. Always stay in the know about things that could be leading to a toxic workplace so you can put an end to those issues immediately. – John Hall, Calendar
9. ACT ON YOUR DATA.
Not feeling valued, a lack of flexibility in work location, and uncompetitive compensation and benefits packages are usually key reasons for high attrition. Organizations often conduct annual pulse and exit surveys but then either don’t act or take too long to act. Obtaining data is the first step; putting together a plan of action and deploying that plan is the next, crucial step. – Krishna Kutty, Kuroshio Consulting Inc.
10. DISCUSS EACH EMPLOYEE’S LIFE PURPOSE.
Have genuine conversations about life purpose. These can happen in one-on-ones or in a group setting. When employees express what their life purpose is (if they have found it), it is easier for the work environment to align with it. When an employee feels heard and supported, they are more likely to be passionate about their job and develop leadership skills. – Phnam Bagley, Nonfiction Design
11. TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR HIRING PROCESS.
For us, it begins with the hiring process. When someone leaves, we truly examine the “why.” When it’s for personal reasons, there’s not much you can do. If it’s something company-related, we get down to the root and see what we can change going forward. If it’s not a character fit, we look at our hiring processes to assure that we are finding the correct balance of talent and culture fit. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32
12. CREATE A CULTURE OF TRANSPARENCY.
Everyone must be open to and familiar with creating a culture of transparency, as this helps create an easy flow of communication in the company. In such a culture the team addresses budding issues immediately, resolves conflicts, and saves the company time and energy rather than waiting for an issue to get blown out of proportion before addressing it. – Lane Kawaoka, SimplePassiveCashflow.com
13. GIVE EACH TEAM MEMBER A CHANCE TO BE HEARD.
Talk to your team—the remaining team members as well as the exiting team members. One-on-one meetings are a great way to uncover trends that may be widely impacting the team. Give each team member a chance to be heard, along with room to share what the company and leadership can improve on. Once you’ve been able to identify the cause(s), it’s much easier to put together a plan. – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC
14. EVALUATE YOURSELF AS A LEADER.
People don’t leave jobs; people leave people. A leader should always look in the mirror and do a self-evaluation when experiencing heavy attrition. The leader could be the central figure of the chaos. Leaning on internal voices of influence as well as objective resources like 360-degree assessments, organizational psychologists, or certified coaches can be a great starting point. – Anthony Flynn, Amazing CEO LLC
15. SEEK OUT THE PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE OTHERS.
In addition to having ongoing culture checks, enabling an open dialogue throughout the company, and providing anonymous surveys for full transparency, seek out the people your team members love working with—the ones who make work fun, who build trust, and who get people collaborating, energized, and inspired. Learn from these valuable unsung leaders to gain the “people’s perspective” on where real improvements can be made. – Val Vacante, LiveArea, a Merkle Company