How to tackle high staff turnover

Q: I have just joined a new company and discovered that the department I am in charge of has a high staff turnover.

How to tackle high staff turnover
How to tackle high staff turnover

I am not sure why these employees are leaving as they are well paid and, despite the current economic climate, most of them seem to be earning bonuses. However, before I joined there was a major "restructuring" within the company and this has left a sour taste with some staff. Personally, I do not understand why they are still bitter as they still have jobs. How do I make them see sense and so reduce the number of leaving speeches I am having to give?

A: I have to say that I hate it when people use different words to disguise what they really mean and I am assuming that your "restructuring" is similar to what happens to one's sex life after 15 years of marriage.

When companies make major organisational changes, those left behind will not always be happy and "buy in" to the new structure. As well as remuneration, there are other important factors that keep staff from leaving an organisation. If it is just money that is making you stay, then you will leave for money too.

It is easy to leave a workplace where you do not feel "linked". You are more likely to leave if:

- Your old colleague network is no longer there and so there is no peer support for you, making lunchtimes, moaning sessions and even the coffee-run far less bearable than before.

- You can no longer look forward to seeing your team-mates.

- You have to keep your head down, in case anyone notices you're still there.

- You no longer have any contact with other departments within the company.

- You have no idea what the organisation's mission and purpose is.

- You can't make plans, because you feel you might be the next to be "restructured".

The solution is to make the people working for you feel like they are still "linked" and tied in to the company. Make sure you commmunicate with your team and hold regular open forum sessions. Listen to their views, even if they are critical. You might not be able to sort out their grievances, but just being able to let off steam will be a start. Importantly, give your team time to talk.

Suggest some team activities and, while these might not be looked at too positively by your team if held after work, suggest an afternoon and give them time off work. Take individuals offsite and treat them to the odd breakfast or lunch. Giving up your time will be just as important to your staff as taking them for lunch.

It is also important to try and get your department to work with some of the other departments within the company. Again, this encourages loyalty to the organisation and will help make the team feel part of something again.

Finally, encourage your team to look at joining professional organisations within the industry and help them to PR themselves in the trade press. The more they feel linked, the smaller your churn will be. - David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers. If you have a career dilemma you would like David to address, e-mail david.emin@haymarket.com. Names of those sending in dilemmas will be kept confidential.

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