How to ensure employee turnover doesn’t kill your company

“I quit.”

How many times have you heard one of your teammates say that?

People leave, that’s a part of life. The problem with employee turnover is not just the fact of leaving though. Problem is, nobody makes a decision to leave in an instant – it’s a gradual realization.

First, you understand you don’t like something about the place you work in. Maybe you try to address and change it, maybe you don’t feel empowered enough and just silently disagree.

Then, your engagement starts deteriorating, you are not motivated anymore, you stop believing in a company, start looking for another job and boom, you leave into a better future.

It’s sad for you. You just lost valuable time you could be doing something you love rather than be frustrated by the problems you think you are powerless to solve.

It’s sad for the company. They lose a teammate and need to find a new one, which in itself is a pricey and time-consuming process. You also had lots of knowledge that will take time for another teammate to learn. But more than that, you were not on top of your game for the last number of days/weeks/month. And when 70% of people in the companies in the US alone are not engaged, it dooms organizations to not achieving their full potential.

Was all of that actually necessary? You, getting frustrated or bored. The company not knowing or ignoring the problem. You leaving and them searching for a new teammate. Could those initial problems be detected and fixed?

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Making sure everyone on the team is happy is an everyday task. It’s not solved by quarterly or even worse, annual reviews. It’s not solved by a counter offer for someone who already decided to leave. It’s solved by constant small steps to ensure engagement and every teammate’s happiness. Like doing weekly happiness surveys and sharing feedback with each other.

Track the most important metrics

People are the core of any organization. They are the ones who build the product, who sell and market it. They are the reason your company has any chance to be successful. It’s crucial to understand how they feel. It’s crucial to see how their feelings are changing over time.

Pretty much any business is caring deeply about different business metrics. What’s your month over month growth? How many active users do you have? What’s your most used feature? What’s the average check size? You probably would have a specific answer to all of those questions, right from the top of your head. What about how does your team feel this week? How has it changed from the last week and what’s the overall dynamic for the past 3 months? Not that easy, right?

Do you really know how your team feels

It’s crazy to ignore people’s well-being considering that it’s the most impactful metric on literally every single metric you track.

That attitude is a relic of times when people were nothing more than replaceable cogs in the machine. It was cheap to find a person for simple, menial tasks. There was not many, if any, proprietary knowledge that a worker would possess. So their replacement would not need much time to learn. It was easy and straightforward. Thus any investments in people just didn’t make any business sense.

With the rise of more intellectual work, it’s changed. It’s not just a question of a basic human decency anymore. Investing in your team has actually one of the best ROIs. Engaged teams, for example, directly correlates with better customer loyalty loyalty (233% better), with better financial results (145% better), with better retention (65% better), with better and more successful organization overall.

Talk, constantly

What if you were lost in wilderness without a map? Maybe you have a place you need to get to but have no ideas how to get there, or maybe you don’t even know the destination you are heading to. Would you be able to find the place?

That’s exactly how people feel when they don’t get feedback. They have absolutely no idea whether the work they do is great or not. Whether they are progressing on their career path or not. How can they get to the place they need to without reference checking?

A natural tendency for any process is misalignment. Things work in parallel but with time they tend to diverge. And it requires explicit actions to stir the alignment back. The more time passes between the feedback, the more misaligned people become and it takes much more effort to bring them back on course.

A problem with quarterly feedback

More than that, weeks and weeks of work get basically wasted since the work done in that misaligned period was not exactly what was needed. It actually could even be a good work sometimes, just not what the organization needs at that moment.

A better approach would be course correcting all the time, sharing feedback daily and weekly, not quarterly or annually.

Benefit of continuous feedback

This way, misalignment just doesn’t have a chance to become a problem, a person is pretty always on track and can reach their goals much faster since no effort is wasted.

And misalignment is only the part of the problem. There is a direct correlation between the lack of feedback and disengagement. 98% of people who don’t get enough feedback end up disengaged, 2,5 times more than people who get it regularly. And it’s critical since companies with more engaged teammates do way better.

Don’t fuck it up

People get misaligned, people get bored, people get disengaged, people stop caring, people quit. It may be a natural tendency, but it’s not something we are powerless to change.

Don’t lose amazing people because you were too lazy to pay attention to how they feel and to provide feedback to them when they needed it.

It’s ok when people move on to focus on a new thing in their lives. It’s not ok when they quit because they got bored, disengaged and frustrated. Don’t fuck it up.