How To Solve the Turnover Problem

April 14, 1999
Your biggest problem is you can't get enough employees to keep up with your work. Your absenteeism is high as well as your turnover. You keep telling management that you need to become a more employee-oriented employer, but they are stuck in "their normal" rut. How can you convince them to adapt to employees' needs more to be able to keep people working? Michigan State University Professor Pamela L. Pommerenke offers Workforce Online users her advice:

Take the question in two parts. First, the need to persuade management that this is an important issue and worthy of their attention. Second exactly what sorts of changes might be made.

First, upper management is usually convinced by a business case in which the bottom line is emphasized. A simple cost-analysis of what the losses are to the company due to absenteeism and turnover would be an eye-opener. Once a plan of action is be put together, a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed changes would also help to appeal to the powers-that-be that these actions are appropriate and worthwhile.

The second issue of what to do is more complicated. I would recommend taking a hard look at the compensation and reward structure in your organization. Pay attention to how rewards tie in to motivation. Are you rewarding what is important to the company? Do workers see a direct link between their efforts and the outcomes the produce? Do they value the rewards offered? Are the reasonably secure in the realization of the rewards if they in fact do produce accordingly? Are employees’ basic needs being met? How about more elusive but equally important intrinsic values? Is respect, independence, and self-direction a part of the value system in your company? Any basic text in human resource management or organizational behavior can provide a good review of the basic concepts and tenants of motivation theories.

Finally, you might want to find out from your employees what they truly desire that they currently aren’t getting. Maybe it’s more autonomy. Maybe it’s more flexibility. Flexibility can be incorporated in a number of ways, including flex-time, job sharing, telecommuting, and job rotation. Obviously, certain types of jobs are going to be more amenable to the incorporation of different types of flexibility than others. The trick is to be open to what is possible and let your employees guide the direction that you take. Good luck!

SOUCE:Pamela L. Pommerenke, a professor of Human Resource Management at Michigan State University's Eli Broad Graduate School of Business, September 1998.