Strategies for Reducing Employee Turnover

jobmax_Reducing_employee_turnoverReducing employee turnover is a primary goal for almost every human resource professional. By reducing employee turnover, organizations save money on recruitment and training, as well as encouraging a stable, experienced workforce. Efforts to increase employee retention start with improving the recruitment and training process, but continue on to providing challenging, interesting work, a cooperative work environment, and comparable compensation programs. Additional factors that contribute to reducing employee turnover include opportunities for professional growth, additional training, and organizational stability.

Turnover is understood by human resource professionals to be the rate at which an organization’s workforce terminates employment and requires replacement employees. In other words, employee turnover is the ratio of vacated and refilled job positions compared to the total workforce of the organization. Certain industries, such as food and beverage, janitorial, and retail, have statistically higher employee turnover rates than others. High turnover rates in such industries typically relate to low pay, a young workforce, high stress, and poor opportunity for advancement.

Improving or reducing employee turnover first requires assessing the reasons why employees leave. Increasing pay rates, for example, may not reduce turnover if the majority of employees leave because of poor work conditions or lack of opportunity. The best tip for reducing employee turnover then is to first determine its cause. Absenteeism rates, productivity levels, and employee complaints are a good place to start when evaluating the reasons behind high turnover. Personal interviews, especially for exiting employees, provides additional insight.

Changes in recruitment and employee training programs can also lead to reducing employee turnover. When candidates are better suited to a particular job role, whether by virtue of past work experience, personality traits, or future career plans, turnover rates are typically not as high. Proper training to prepare candidates for new job roles likewise lessens turnover. Additional training throughout an employee’s tenure provides opportunities for professional growth the employee would otherwise need to fund out of pocket, which can increase loyalty and retention. Cross-training employees for additional responsibilities likewise increases each employee’s perceived value, as well as providing opportunities for new and interesting challenges.

Organizational culture is also an important factor in reducing employee turnover. Cooperative environments, team work, supportive supervisors, and clear communication of expectations all contribute to a stable, encouraging organizational culture. Studies show that organizational culture and workplace environments are two of the most often cited reasons why employees choose to leave a particular job position. Employees who feel empowered, supported, and valued typically report a higher sense of job satisfaction and, therefore, are less likely to pursue other employment opportunities. As such, instigating changes in managerial hierarchy, employee accountability, establishing open door policies, and similar efforts that bring employees into key decision-making roles typically reduce turnover.

Numerous studies regarding employee turnover and job satisfaction place compensation and benefits far below other factors that contribute to turnover. Although most employees report workplace environments, personal motivation, and challenging opportunities as more important than compensation, it can be a factor in reducing employee turnover. If an organization’s base pay and benefit package is not in line with other organizations in the same industry, employees will leave to pursue better opportunities. Periodic review of common industry practices regarding pay and benefits ensures an organization remains competitive and loses fewer employees.

Five Tips for Hiring Seasonal Workers

Jobmax_HiringSeasonalWorkersjpgIt’s very common for organizations to look to the support of seasonal temporary workers to during peak production times. In fact, hiring seasonal workers on a temporary basis can be one of the best ways to realize a positive return on investment for your business because it’s less costly than hiring regular employees.

Each year, major retailers hire seasonal temps to help out during the holidays and support increased shopping demands. The biggest industries that use seasonal help are manufacturing, retail, hospitality, customer service, sales, and shipping and transportation. However, any company may choose to hire seasonal temps to cover summer vacations or maternity leaves for regular employees.

Seasonal assignments may last for a few days to a few months, depending on the need of each organization. During this time, it’s up to the company to provide training and supervision so that seasonal temps have the ability to be productive. There are some key ways that any business can get the most from their temporary seasonal staff.

  1. Create accurate seasonal job descriptions. Your first step in maximizing seasonal staff ROI is to write seasonal job descriptions that clearly spell out the tasks and responsibilities of each assignment. Your seasonal workforce may have limited time to get projects completed, so make sure they are reasonable given the scope of work.
  2. Provide training and resources to get the job done. Set up all seasonal work stations and systems in advance to make sure you get the more out of seasonal temps. Arrange for an orientation and training day, utilizing your seasoned employees as mentors to seasonal staffers. Give your seasonal workforce access to the information and resources to be successful.
  3. Set clear goals and deadlines for tasks and projects. Your seasonal workers can only accomplish what you expect if you communicate this to them. Provide seasonal temps with a list of tasks they are to complete, along with daily and weekly goals. Provide reasonable deadlines for getting things done.
  4. Give seasonal workers incentives to perform to highest standards. Seasonal workers often respond well to short-term incentives because they may not have access to the same benefits as your regular employees. Set fun contests and provide bonuses for top performers. Give seasonal workers incentives such as on-site lunches, wellness services, and discounts for merchandise.
  5. Treat seasonal workforce with respect and offer some permanent jobs. The reason why some individuals take on seasonal work is to prove their worth for future employment consideration. Remember to treat all seasonal workers with respect and appreciation, offering a few the opportunity to become permanent employees based on their performance. You can find out who may be interested in perm placement by talking with your staffing agency.

Seasonal workers can be a valuable way to stay on top of busy production periods and project demands. Remember to make the most of your seasonal staffers by giving them rewarding assignments and interesting tasks.

How to Manage High & Low Performers

People who invest their money wisely focus on the investments that have the greatest chance of turning out to be winners. Do you do the same when managing the performance of your employees? If you are sadly like most managers, the answer is you probably get caught up spending too much time with low performers who have a fair chance of being acceptable but not stars. What would happen if y0u dedicated more time to your employees who are acceptable performers yet exhibit clear signs of being high performers? The answer is that many of these acceptable performers will move into the ranks of high performers.

As a CEO, manager, or business owner, how do you identify the employees to focus on, and how can you make the most of your lower performers?

1. Be selective about whom you focus on

Carefully select who will be important for you to invest your time, energy, and other resources in to develop their performance. This decision is incredibly important. If you choose a low performer, your likely payoff will be less than if you select a high performer. This may seem at odds with what you have learned in the past, or it may even seem to go against the grain of democracy or fighting for the underdog. However, if your goal is to maximize performance, then this approach is more likely to yield grater results more quickly.

Anyone can really improve only two or three things at a single time, no matter what multitaskers tell you. Deliberately practicing two or three things is what drives high impact gains in performance and productivity, and that practice can be enhanced with explicit, targeted feedback from mangers. It is far easier, more rewarding, and more effective to leverage strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. The key is to find strength in one area in the performer and get them to use that strength in an area that requires improvement. Real, sustained improvement takes time. As a manager, you require patience as you need to focus on the long term and not just quick fix. The quicker the fix, the less sustainable the result.

2. Keep hope alive for all performers

Keep hope alive for all performers, even those who are chronically low. What does this mean? As a manager or CEO, you want to make investments, though not equal investments, in all performers. But do not waste a lot of time, energy, and other resources on your employees who, at their very best, will only be average or acceptable performers. These are not bad people or bad fits for your company or not worthy of salary or slackers; they may simply be comfortable in their current position and have no desire to become the company superstar.

A manager who wants to improve performance should demonstrate what psychologists call “unconditional positive regard”. This means that you accept where your staff begins their performance improvement journey: Some may begin behind; others at the right place; and some even ahead. Assess the starting place but do not judge. Then, you can identify the signature strengths of all of your staff, even chronic low performers.

Watch out for the “Pygmalion effect” of your staff rising or falling to meet your expectations. In other words, if you have low expectations, they will move to meet your low expectations; if you have high expectations; your employees will move to meet your high expectations.

Focus on making progress toward a longer term goal and reward that progress, even if it is only one baby step after another. By rewarding small steps towards the larger performance goal, you will also feel less frustration because you know your efforts with the low performers are paying off.

3. Address chronic low performers

Cut your losses early. As a manager or CEO, you are responsible to your boss or stockholders, to your company, and to your customers. There are two ways to address chronic low performers. If, after setting clear expectations, monitoring their performance, coaching them, and then letting them know about the consequences of underperforming, you still see no improvement, you should let them go.

If your company cannot afford to let any employees go to keep the operation running, the second way to address the issue is to reassign chronic low performers. When you reassign an employee, you protect the majority of those who are performing well from smaller group that could persuade them to lower performance across the board of distract the higher performers.

Picture yourself three to six months from now after experimenting with these three recommendations. Not only will you have a plan for all performers, but you will have dedicated more time, energy, and resources to those performers with the greatest payoff. Your time is precious; you can focus on only so much. You have to be selective about what you focus on. When you are responsible for managing performance, prioritize and be confident knowing that your investment will pay off for you, your company, and your customers.


Cooperative Communication

Cooperative communication, in the world of business, is generally defined as the skill and ability of employees to “get along” at the workplace; the techniques of sharing information in a non-threatening and polite manner are the basis of cooperative communication, and when properly implemented, cooperative communication enhances the workplace experience and typically inspires better performance.

It is natural that, during the complexity and repetitive nature of typical workdays, person-to-person conflicts will arise. The pressure to perform, both individually and as team members, can generate high-level negativity and conflict in many employees. Cooperative communication often acts as an effective “pressure release valve”.

Studies have shown that when cooperative communication is lacking, feelings of hostility, operational problems, and poor individual performance are among the unhappy results. This begs the question: Why isn’t cooperative communication practiced by all companies to avoid the problems created by its lack of implementation?

Unfortunately, there is a general lack of cooperative communication for a simple, but often undiscovered reason: Most people have never been taught the skill. Few schools and higher education institutions have cooperative communication on their course menu. Unless employees learned the skill at home from their parents, most have little appreciation for or the ability to use this important commodity. Unfortunately, this skill is often lacking in otherwise high performing managers, too.

The simple act of cooperative communication can have a profound effect on management effectiveness in a variety of ways. For example, good cooperative communication will often:

  • Eliminate employee-to-employee friction. As workplace pressures escalate, so does the natural human conflicts that occur. Cooperative communication usually eliminates much of this vocal friction and helps teams work together more successfully.
  • Eliminate the attitude of “winning an argument” and introduce a philosophy of problem solving. Instead of a personal competition environment, staff normally adopts a winning attitude towards the team or department in which they function.
  • Eliminate professional personality and procedure conflicts. Instead of an attitude of “Do it my way. It’s the best way,” cooperative communication fosters an attitude of “Let’s work together to do it the best way”. This one attribute can help management immensely.
  • Eliminate conflict and wasted time at strategic and training meetings. Both staff and management often complain about the number of meetings they are required to attend. Yet, for all the jokes and complaints, management knows that most meetings are necessary. Cooperative communication in the meeting place saves time, helps the moderator stay on topic, and generates better results.
  • Eliminate many client and customer complaints about poor treatment by staff. Nothing can do more harm to a company’s branding and image efforts than a customer or client base that feels mistreated by staff. A habit of cooperative communication often eliminates much of the customer dissatisfaction (real or perceived) that afflicts many companies.

Cooperative communication is a simple concept that can deliver wonderful positive results to management. Managers should understand that because of lack of training at all levels of education many employees don’t understand how to use cooperative communication.

Depending on the size and/or structure of a company, the Human Resource (HR) Department, team leaders, or department managers can implement the training and support necessary to expose employees to the ways to use cooperative communication. This is a win-win situation for both staff and management, as employees will enjoy a more positive workplace experience by eliminating much of the natural conflict that occurs.

How to Get the Best Performance from Diverse Teams

As more businesses rely on teams to perform projects and achieve goals, management must learn to maximize their productivity and minimize inherent potential downsides. This challenge is spiced with increasing diversity, including age, education, language and cultural differences.

Managers’ performance ratings often depend on the achievements of their teams. This condition mandates that managers learn to work well with diverse teams, using teammate talents to the max, while building a finely tuned group that is motivated to deliver high performance.

University of California, Irvine, PhD candidate Kenji Klein noted in the published paper, “Culturally Diverse Teams that Work,” that culturally diverse teams “. . . can boost firm performance, but that potential comes with some risk.” Klein’s research displayed that results of diverse teams are divided—sometimes they work well; at times they do not.

The prime questions that managers must answer: How to take advantage of diverse teams? Team diversity works best when responsible for the following tasks.

  • Projects that demand focus from a variety of angles and perspectives.
  • Subjects that include understanding information from various sources, requiring innovative answers and out-of-the-box ideas.

Managers facing more obvious, routine tasks or projects may generate better results by using less diverse, more homogenous teams. In these situations, teams with educationally and culturally similar members can benefit from the following advantages.

  • Faster and better communication.
  • Better cohesion and quicker collaboration to solve problems.
  • Smoother implementation of changes and solutions.
  • Projects having short deadlines benefit from using less diverse teams.

Assembling diverse high-performing teams require managers to have one quality above all others—patience. Research from a variety of institutions, including MIT’s Sloan School of Management, indicates that newly formed diverse teams initially do not perform very well.

However, over time, team members become more comfortable working with their teammates and deliver higher performance when their leader (manager) has the patience to let teammates adjust to each other’s differences and perspectives.

Along with exhibiting patience, managers should allow diverse team members to integrate their different views instead of encouraging teammates to suppress their age, cultural or educational differences. If managers select the right team members, while giving them the freedom to become a cohesive group over time, diverse teams tend to perform better than more homogenous groups in the long-term.

Managers, who are patient and offer diverse teams freedom to find their own ways to collaborate, enjoy the following benefits.

  • High-level innovative ideas and solutions.
  • Team members who are comfortable offering out-of-the-box thinking and suggestions to each other and to management.
  • Teams that overcome initial conflicts rising from diversity to become high performing, cohesive groups.
  • The ability to give these teams complex projects, requiring innovation and creativity, with the confidence that their valuable combination of diversity and cohesion will deliver outstanding solutions.

Two conditions seem to apply across the board with few dissenters:

  • Globalization of business demands that managers find ways to work with highly diverse teams.
  • Most diverse teams take a while to fuse and integrate their differences to focus on collaboration to achieve their goals.

Managers who accept and understand these consistent tendencies should enjoy excellent results from their diverse teams. Leaders still must be aware of potential conflicts arising from personality, not cultural, diversity. Assembling winning diverse teams may demand some management tweaking of team members involved in bad chemistry situations.

Evaluating team cohesion is important, even when managers assemble homogenous teams for shorter-term projects. Patient managers, who give their diverse teams the freedom to work past their initial cultural differences, will be pleased they adopted this approach. Diverse teams, aware of their leader’s patience and understanding, typically form high-performing, cohesive groups that solve the most complex problems with innovative solutions.