Employee Turnover:

Is There Anything We Can Do to Get You to Stay?

If you’re in a formal leadership role, you’ve probably said, “Is there anything we can do to get you to stay?” to a high-performing employee who has just resigned. You may have uttered these reactive words of panic following the realization that you somehow missed the signs and symptoms of employee disengagement and now have to face another instance of employee turnover. Unfortunately, at that point it’s probably too late.

Sometimes your staff turnover rate can reflect a healthy transfer out when the fit isn’t right. Which is it for you and your team? Is your turnover healthy or harmful? When it’s harmful, turnover is expensive for the team, patients and organization as a whole.

Do you measure the cost of employee turnover?

If you don’t, you are missing out on important data that can support changes within your work area. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the formula for calculating turnover costs equates to 6-9 months of a person’s annual salary. That’s a good place to start when figuring out what employee turnover is costing you.

When healthcare organizations experience higher-than-expected employee turnover, the costs can be mind-boggling. Staff turnover rates and employee turnover statistics have been known to make grown men – and women – cry. Add to this the fact that employee turnover calculation is wrought with challenges and you can see why folks are shedding tears.

According to Gallup, “Half of U.S. employees are watching the job market or actively looking for a job.” Are you doing everything you can to stem the tide of employee turnover? Do you know which half of your team is looking and who is staying put? Either way, it’s important to understand the types and causes of employee turnover and how to reduce it.

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Types of employee turnover

There are four types of employee turnover. Depending on the situation, employee turnover can be productive. For example, when the employee who is no longer connected to the job leaves for retirement, you can feel good about filling that spot with a more motivated team member.

Here are the four types of employee turnover:

  1. Voluntary: The employee decides to leave.
  2. Involuntary: You ask the employee to leave.
  3. Retirement: The employee stops working.
  4. Internal transfer: The employee moves to a different role within your organization.

Which types of employee turnover are you dealing with? What role does employee engagement – or disengagement – play in what your team is experiencing?

Causes of employee turnover

Employees leave for a variety of reasons. Some are internal – related to personal circumstances, beliefs and mindsets. Others are external – related to employment conditions, pay and opportunity.

Here are five causes of employee turnover to consider. As you review these, think about what you can proactively influence.

  1. Employee turnover related to family circumstances
    This can include leaving because of a spouse’s job transfer, moving closer to family, having a new baby, retiring or caring for an elderly parent. There’s not much you can do about this except to wish the person well. They are leaving you or your organization – they are moving forward to a better place for them personally. A farewell party is in order.
  2. Employee turnover related to finding a better fit
    Sometimes the position just isn’t a good fit. You both did your best to make it work, but the specific responsibilities, demands, commute, or hours just aren’t right. You can tell when this is the case. The employee feels uncomfortable and disconnected. They might be trying hard, but the fit just isn’t there. If this is a valued employee, try finding a better fit somewhere else in the organization. If that approach doesn’t pan out, wish them well and do some more digging when you interview their replacement.
  3. Employee turnover related to lack of growth and development opportunities
    When employees arrive at the job, they want to be satisfied, energized and productive (my definition of employee engagement). Growth and development is a powerful driver of these feelings. Do you understand what makes each employee “tick”? Do you know their growth and development goals? When employees leave for this reason you might have missed an opportunity.
  4. Employee turnover related to lack of connection in the workplace
    Another key driver of engagement is positive connections with other team members and leaders. When employees feel connected to their coworkers, boss and senior leaders, they are more likely to stay. When the connections start to break, then leaving the team becomes easier. What are you doing as a leader to create positive connections with your team?
  5. Employee turnover related to performance or attitude gaps
    Employee performance is driven by three elements: Motivation, Ability, and Opportunity. Let’s assume that everyone on your team has the opportunity to do their job. That means when a performance gap exists, it’s either a lack of motivation or ability. Ability can be improved when the motivation is there. If the employee has performance or attitude gaps that increase over time and coaching doesn’t help, it might be time to start the discipline process.

How to reduce employee turnover

Here are three ways to get started in your desire to minimize the causes of employee turnover and improve employee engagement.

  1. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with employees to talk about their career goals and aspirations. Talk about internal and external growth and development opportunities. Really listen for what is being said “between the lines.” What makes this person feel satisfied, energized and productive at work? How can you help him or her connect with those things?
  2. Once you understand the goals and aspirations, find opportunities for the employee to participate in meetings, calls or events outside your department to continue to challenge his or her skills. Find a mentor from another spot in the organization to act as another set of ears and a guide your employee along the way.
  3. Share your stories about how you have moved around the within the organization and the benefits you’ve seen from being employed long term at your organization. Talk about your commitment to the mission and vision. Keep trying to connect the dots between the employee’s goals and his or her work.

As an additional resource, this Forbes article gives a quick 5-point checklist: “5 Ways to Reduce Employee turnover.

Yes, sometimes an employee’s move to a new organization is inevitable. But many times, effort on the front end can help you avoid the pain and expense of losing your star employee and you can actively decrease your employee turnover statistics.

Engagement Insights & Ideas


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