Look at most KPIs for senior management across the board, and you are very likely to see that they are graded – in part - on staff turnover.
And with good cause.
Losing a member of staff costs money – there’s no way around that. (Unless they were embezzling funds, in which case that’s an undisguised blessing.) High staff turnover makes itself felt in many ways, not just the actual financial cost of hiring a recruiter or headhunter to fill the position. It is also evident in lost productivity, overworked staff who are left to pick up the slack, lost knowledge (especially in specialist roles), additional training costs and mentorship. Estimates run into around 150% of annual salary – a significant reason to focus on retaining good staff.
However, the question has been asked – is a low staff turnover always a good thing? Is there such a thing as a healthy level of turnover?
To explore that fully let’s look at the other side of the coin.
What are the risks of low – or no – staff turnover?
The Status Quo
If you want to know what this great, big, lurking creature looks like, listen out for the following phrase: "We’ve always done it this way."
Yes, staff who have been around for a number of years, who are familiar with each other, and who are familiar with their roles and interpersonal responsibilities, can lapse into this coma. There are no new ideas, no new challenges, to reason to change anything up.
Some may argue that their division runs like a well-oiled machine. Well, even a well-oiled machine can run slowly or in the wrong direction.
It can be an education watching the behavioural responses to a comfortable team when a newbie joins the company. There is always some hair flicking and chest puffing from the existing residents, and most people are usually somewhat wary. Is this guy better than me? Does he know stuff that I don’t? This uncertainty is normally a good thing as it pushes people to learn more, to try different ways, and to explore their self-inflicted boundaries.
Without constantly hiring new staff, how can you make sure that you’re not stuck with a decade-old status quo? Having a solid team as a foundation, and employing high levels of external engagement will certainly help. Consider engaging short-term contractors for specific projects to work along with the team; actively participate in industry networking events; sub-contract your employees out to partner businesses to grow their knowledge, and ensure constant external training.
The Culture Beast
Trying to define a company culture is like trying to staple jelly to the wall. It is a combination of personalities and habits, a mix of management styles and dispositions. This is the air that permeates the company. Some companies have tried to define and establish a company culture with varying measures of success.
The root of a company culture is the habits that are formed by the staff members over a period of time.
If you have a positive energy in your office with everyone pulling together, then that’s first prize. However, there may be pockets of “issues” where people may not fit or where personality clashes occur. One of your managers may be causing divisions in a particular area with his – shall we say, unique, management style. One of your long-standing employees may have a problem which they are quite vocal about.
To keep a company culture flowing in the right direction without adding new staff, a great idea would be to implement a consistent rotation between functions. This will shake up entrenched habits and force people to take note of responsibilities and issues outside of their little bubble. It creates situations where different members of a team will work together where they wouldn’t have before. Think of it a little like stirring the pot.
The Comfort Zone
Ah, but it’s warm and cozy here. However, there is a fine line between a comfort zone and a stagnating career.
When people move to a new company they are eager to please and will almost always go above and beyond in order to make a great impression. In a familiar environment where it’s always easy and where everyone knows their place, there’s less need to put yourself out.
While there will always be those firecrackers who are constantly striving to be bigger, better, and faster, the vast majority of staff are quite happy with an established rhythm.
Without churning through staff, how can you stop this rhythm from slowing down to a standstill? The trick is to move the goal posts – a lot. Set clear but achievable goals for each team member which follows the line of their career plan and their personal interests. Once they have reached a milestone, create another. This results in a constant stream of enthusiasm and fresh perspectives from a dedicated bunch of people who are always learning and growing.
If you recognize some or all of these downsides to a low staff turnover, then you’ll be pleased to know that The Outperformer has some simple solutions.
We offer access to mentors and peers who can work together with you or your team in a collaborative environment. This high-level, innovative thinking encourages staff members to challenge their role. It quickly enhances team performance and increases engagement between various levels.
Visit us at www.theoutperformer.co and let’s work together to keep your team stable, focused and energized.
Written by Adam Neyenhuys Co-Founder of The Outperformer