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Reducing Turnover

Our industry -- healthcare -- is booming. We're seeing lots of new hospitals and clinics getting set to open, creating a demand for skilled and experienced employees. That has us a little worried about staff attrition. We expect to lose some people, but what are some practical steps we could implement to get out ahead of this issue?

A Little Nervous, assistant HR manager, health care, Singapore

September 4, 2013
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The very best steps might be the least obvious. Employees stay or leave for managers and rarely leave for pay or benefits alone. More common reasons for leaving include lack of (or no) recognition, no career plan, inflexible work schedules, boredom with the work, or a feeling of being overwhelmed with stress.

More money makes none of these things better.

Nearly all companies trip over each other rushing to the wrong solution. They believe an employee-of-the-month program will solve recognition. Think a brown-bag lunch presentation is the equivalent of offering career growth. Think poor communication will be fixed with a town-hall meeting. Think reducing stress means bringing in a masseuse.

What’s missing in all these “fixes?” It is the manager who builds a better relationship with his team members by focusing on issues that matter to them the most.

So what to do? Try these two solutions. First, quote data (there are quite a few really good studies on engagement available) that presents data proving that bosses drive turnover and retention – and engagement and disengagement. Ask your executive team to hold managers accountable for retention (against pre-established goals) and publish a monthly report as a reminder.

A starter quote might be this one from First, Break All the Rules written by two Gallup consultants: “If you have a turnover problem, look first to your managers”.

Then secondly, train your managers to conduct stay interviews with their teams. Many HR professionals are learning that engagement surveys bring data but no solutions, while exit surveys provide information only after people leave. Stay interviews give managers a complete solution kit based on individual employee feedback. Managers then help employees to learn new skills, hear positive feedback, and even adjust their workloads as necessary. In other words, managers own the responsibility for talent development -- which is the way it was always meant to be.

Dick Finnegan, C-Suite Analytics, Longwood, Florida, author of Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad and The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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