Methods for reducing high levels of staff turnover

Methods for reducing high levels of staff turnover

'Coach Kriengsak, I'm worried about the high turnover rate of my employees," Chris tells me. "We're at 30%, while the rate for others in the same industry is only 10%."

"But your company is also a high-performance organisation," I tell him. "How much is your growth rate compared with others in the industry?"

"Other competitors have grown at 3% a year for the past three years, while we've grown at 6% a year over the same period. But a 30% turnover rate is still high."

"Chris, what would be your realistic goal for the staff turnover rate?"

"I think 15-20% would be just about right."

"What sorts of reasons have you been hearing in the exit interviews of those who left?"

"There are several reasons. But what stands out is that they were unable to cope with the pace of change here."

"What about the staff who are still working with you?"

"They are fine because their attitude is aligned with the dynamic culture here. Perhaps I should focus on the selection process first?"

"Chris, how do you know who has the right cultural fit during the selection proves?"

"We don't have that yet. Do you have any idea?"

"Your organisation is unique. It's hard for me to share my experience."

"Coach, can you recommend some best practices that other organisations use to check on whether people fit their culture?"

I mention a blog post that I read recently by Keith McFarland, headlined "Why Zappos offers new hires $2,000 to quit." is a successful online shoe and clothing seller based in Nevada. Founder Tony Hsieh sets the tone for the business, as he outlines in his bestselling book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Zappos is famously known for its strong organisational culture.

Mr McFarland wrote: "When Zappos hires new employees, it puts them through an intensive four-week training programme, immersing them in the company's culture, strategy and processes. Then about one week in, Zappos makes what it calls 'The Offer', telling newbies: 'If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you have worked, plus a $2,000 bonus.' A BusinessWeek reporter interviewed Hsieh recently. He says only 2% to 3% of people take the offer. The other 97% say no deal _ they choose the job over the instant cash."

"That's interesting, Coach," says Chris.

"Chris, what else would you do to ensure that you have the right kind of mindset in new employees?"

"I think I'll discuss this issue with the recruitment officers for direct recruitment, and also discuss it with our external search consultants."

"Chris, assume that you have the right kind of people coming into your organisation, what are some of the other reasons for them to leave?"

"I think they have difficulty adjusting themselves to others. We are a fast-moving business. Hence, we don't have enough time to socialise and get to know each other. It's highly unlikely for them to blend in with others."

"What would be the solutions?"

He's quiet as he reflects for a while. "Coach, I have three ideas: direct boss coaching, a buddy system, or mentoring.

"It would be the accountability of the direct supervisor to make sure that newcomers can make the transition to their roles as fast as they can. The direct supervisor must have a regular meeting with the newcomer individually _ preferably once a day for the first week. Then one-on-one meetings at least once a week for another three weeks.

"Then we must assign a buddy for the newcomer. The buddy is responsible for helping the rookie to integrate into our way of working. Our firm doesn't have a hierarchical structure. We do things in a lean way. Hence, those who have experienced the silo mentality may not work well here.

"Mentoring is another way to help the newcomers as well. I think we can assign two or three new employees to be mentored by other more senior-level staff for at least three or four months until they pass probation."

"That's a good plan."

"Coach, what advice do you have about things the direct supervisor can do for the newcomer?"

"Chris, I've developed a set of questions to help managers to learn more about each individual's preferred communication styles. If the supervisor can get answers to these, it will be a great help for both parties. Here they are:

- What are you strengths?

- What are your weaknesses?

- When I have to assign a task that's one of your weaknesses, how should I communicate to you?

- How do I assign a task to you; in normal mode and in urgent mode?

- When there is a change, how should I communicate it to you?

- What kind of a motivation specifically matches you?

- When you make a mistake, what would be your preferred way to receive feedback?

- What would be a preferred way to follow up on you?

- What else do I need to know to make you more effective?"

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under TheCoach brand. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at

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