Embrace the Churn! It’s Time to Operationalize Employee Turnover

It’s hard to accept, but time to acknowledge that a large portion of our current annual turnover is no longer expected to go away…ever.

The reality is that moving forward, all employer-employee relationships must be deemed “mutually beneficial” to stay intact. If at any given point, an employer no longer needs the skills, services, or hours of that employee, they are likely to cut the job. And if at any other point, the employee feels the organization, schedule, or team is no longer a fit for their needs, that employee will likely break the relationship and go find a new role with a new company.

Because the employment dynamic has changed this drastically, it’s time to operationalize our turnover just as we’ve done with other areas of our business such as accounting. We’ve fool-proofed our AP/AR processes to ensure we pay bills on time and get paid on time. Why not create a well-oiled machine for sustainable staffing as well?


Moving forward, let’s begin planning for half of our current annual turnover (forever), budget to that newly-embraced level of churn, and implement retention strategies that are sustainable in this new environment:

  1. Assign a true owner of retention initiatives.
    Let’s be real, when retention is “everyone’s” responsibility, no one actually owns the tasks and metrics associated with actively reducing turnover. Organizations we work with are finding success when they identify and promote from within, or hire, a part-time or full-time Retention Specialist (which can be combined with a part-time recruiting role, if needed). This person drives the retention conversations and leads initiatives for managing unavoidable employee turnover to not only determine ways to reduce it, but also operationalize what cannot be eliminated. This person also has the time to genuinely check in with new hires to learn why they stay, hear why they consider leaving, and mentor them into a longer career with the organization.

    Not sure what that Retention Specialist role could look like? A sample downloadable job description is available at www.MagnetVault.com.
  2. Create reusable onboarding checklists.
    Next, let’s get to the procedural side. Do you have detailed onboarding checklists at the organizational level, departmental level, and role level that cover what a new hire needs to know by the end of 1) day one, 2) week one, 3) month one, and 4) quarter one? If not, now is the time! Remember, effective onboarding takes months, so it’s best to make detailed checklists available to the managers and new hire so they can communicate effectively about where they are and where they need to be throughout the process.

    This also helps reduce the number of new hires who get overwhelmed by the old-school “sink-or-swim” model, who then ultimately quit because that approach no longer works effectively. Today’s new workforce needs more guidance as they enter your organization, and these basic checklists can cure many of the onboarding ailments we find across companies today that come from miscommunication and assumptions.
  3. Train your managers to be better bosses.
    Finally, one of the greatest returns on workforce retention initiatives comes from training every level of leader within your organization to better understand, communicate with, and ultimately retain their team members. On a day-to-day basis, these individuals buffer most of the issues that arise for staff, which you never see. From scheduling challenges to a perceived lack of advancement opportunities, a need for greater recognition, and resolving more team conflict than ever – great bosses are the real reason most people stay in their roles. The staff feel heard, valued, appreciated, and truly cared about by those who know them best.

    Do you have an adequate training plan in place for new supervisors, mid-level managers, and seasoned executives to ensure they each continue to learn about the evolving generations in the workplace and maintain high levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) (which often drop as leaders climb the career ladder)? Our EQ and communication classes are two of the most requested courses from our training catalogue right now because companies cut so much of their training and development programs years ago that it’s now come back to haunt them. They’ve promoted people into leadership positions without giving them the tools to be successful retaining staff with this new employer-employee relationship.

So, what’s your plan? Are you going to keep doing business the way it’s always been done? Or will you take the retention roadmap above seriously to address the costly turnover problem that will not resolve itself? How much more talent must leave before it’s time to make major changes in our approach to retaining the talent we cannot afford to lose?

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