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Increase Employee Satisfaction, Decrease Turnover.

Given the high cost of turnover, effectively managing employee satisfaction can significantly impact a business and its bottom line. Turnover leads to lost time, energy and productivity, with replacement cost estimates ranging from 50 to 200% of an employee’s annual salary. This estimate includes the selection-phase costs of publicizing the position, time spent interviewing, travel and/or relocation, signing bonuses, and pre-hiring assessments. The costs mount when you on-board a new hire, including training materials and personnel, technology, benefits set up, and more. In short, employee satisfaction and maintaining a low turnover rate should be key initiatives for every business.

Reasons for Turnover

Unexpected turnover has likely affected most businesses at some point. Why do employees choose to leave? By understanding the motives behind resignations, employers can develop strategies to control costly, disruptive turnover, and build employee satisfaction. The most common concerns cited by job seekers to recruiters generally fall into the following four categories:

  1. The job itself and prospects for the future
    • Limited opportunities for upward advancement
    • Company not doing well, future stability uncertain
    • Stopped learning, no longer being challenged
    • Doing the same job too long
    • Work is too routine, want more projects
    • Big organizations: Want the chance to see the big picture, job is too narrow
    • Small organizations: Want more opportunity for growth in the future
    • Want to have more impact on the organization
  2. Company, culture and communication
    • Organization does not value their department
    • Tools and technology are out of date
    • Department is understaffed
    • No cross training, have to work twice as hard to catch up after a vacation
    • No time to be proactive, always putting out fires
    • Lack of communication about goals, deadlines, job openings and company direction
    • Desire to work for a company that is fun
    • Company doesn’t trust its employees
    • Job not as described during interview
  3. Personal needs
    • Reduced travel time
    • Less stress
    • Better work/life balance
    • More money
  4. Complaints about management style
    • Lack of recognition of contributions
    • Micromanagement, rather than autonomy
    • Lack of timely feedback and reviews
    • Disorganization and crisis mode, with no time to make things better
    • Responsibility without authority
    • Interesting work isn’t delegated
    • Criticizing in front of others
    • Boss is inconsistent and unfair
    • Boss isn’t honest or straight-forward
    • Long hours are a “badge of honor”
    • People are judged by hours not result

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Strategies for Addressing Turnover

As an employer, it’s critical to know if your employees are voicing concerns about the firm or their place in it. The following tips and tools can help alleviate or prevent many of the factors that lead to employee discontent:

  • Proactively talk to your staff
    Talk to your staff in a nonjudgmental way, formally and informally. Don’t expect employees to volunteer their concerns. If you have been surprised by turnover in the past, chances are good that communication had broken down somewhere along the line.
  • Try giving your employees more autonomy and see how they do
    You might be surprised how much they can do if you let them. The amount of guidance and structure you provide must vary with each employee, but you’ll never know how employees will perform until you give them a chance. You might end up with more time to plan and make proactive changes, thereby reducing the number of fire drills.
  • Assess yourself as a leader, coach and mentor as opposed to a boss
    Do some of the complaints about management style apply to you? Remember to treat your employees as if they have a choice in where they work, because they do.
  • Become more confident of your own role and its importance
    If you are insecure in your own job or abilities, you may adopt damaging behaviors such as criticizing in public, not delegating enough and taking credit for your employees’ work.
  • Mix it up 
    Most people love variety and challenge. If the organization isn’t growing, work to provide your staff with variety in project assignments and even lateral movement. An added benefit is the cross training that will occur naturally as a result.
  • Assess workloads
    Understaffing sounds like a cost-saver, but the resulting low morale and turnover are actually much more expensive.
  • Communicate goals, deadlines, results, achievements and internal opportunities
    This is especially important during periods of change. Give the employees the big picture and help them understand how they contribute to it. This is critical to motivating and retaining your staff.


The companies with the most success in retaining employees avoid being too rigid and inflexible. They find creative ways to address employee concerns while still accomplishing business objectives. For example, reassign clients to even out travel and overtime, use a contract resource to reduce your employees’ overtime and routine work, or use job-sharing to help people balance their work and family responsibilities.

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