According to a recent report released by the Associated Press, this spring U.S. businesses experienced the largest decline in workplace productivity in four years. Experts suggest the decline in productivity, coupled with a rise in labor costs, indicates that businesses could have reached the limits of getting more out of fewer employees. With productivity down and many companies seeing employee engagement issues, some businesses are now facing the threat of attrition.
When one employee leaves it can have a domino effect that impacts your entire team. And turnover can get expensive fast. With the expense of replacement hiring and training costs, along with lost productivity, turnover costs businesses billions of dollars each year. But the truth is, attrition is often an unavoidable part of business. Good and bad employees alike come and go. But, it can be difficult to be successful and get ahead when you’re always managing changes.
If you’re facing the possibility of attrition in your office, follow these survival tips to help keep your business running smoothly through the changes and struggles of turnover.
Be prepared. Whether or not you’re facing the threat of turnover now, help your business outlast transitions and changes by being prepared. One of the hardest parts of losing employees is losing the knowledge, experience, and expertise they bring to the table. Having job descriptions and written procedures for specific tasks will help ensure some of that knowledge doesn’t walk out the door with an employee who has resigned. And, it will help make training a new employee that much easier.
Make sure each employee has written instructions for the different jobs they do. Procedures and job descriptions should be kept up to date, so be sure to make changes when necessary. You wouldn’t want something important to be forgotten because of outdated information. Also, be sure those directions are easily accessible so you won’t have to search for them when an employee leaves.
Another great way to ensure a smoother turnover transition is to make sure more than one person is trained on specific tasks. Most employees give the traditional two weeks’ notice, but that isn’t always enough time to hire and train a replacement. Having more than one person trained on different programs and projects will help ensure someone is available to help train the new employee. And, when more than one employee knows how to accomplish certain job duties, you’ll also have a backup if someone is sick and can’t make it in that day.
Assess the situation. When an employee leaves, take time to assess the situation. Make sure you know what they were working on. Be aware of the different projects they were dealing with and find out if there are any pressing deadlines that need to be met.
While turnover can be costly and difficult for your team, it can also give you a chance to make changes or adjustments. It offers you the opportunity to restructure or transition different projects. It also gives you the chance to build an even better team by hiring the right employee for the job. Before you hire a replacement, determine what you’re looking for. Examine what strengths would add to the team to help build on the foundation of your workforce.
Part of assessing the situation is also looking at why turnover is occurring. So, if you can, find out why employees are choosing to leave. That may mean having a frank conversation with an employee who has resigned during an exit interview. Ask for their honest feedback so you can learn from their resignation. The more you know about why an employee is leaving, the sooner you can fix the issues so others don’t follow suit. Finding ways to resolve issues that can cause turnover can help prevent future resignations and allows you to make changes to the weaker areas of your business.
Develop a plan. Once you’ve assessed the situation, develop a plan to help your team survive the changes. Your plan should include how your team will handle the workload until a replacement is found and how you will shelter your remaining employees from the added strain. You’re a team and you have to work together to survive. But, with many employees already feeling the strain of heavy workloads, be sure you protect your remaining employees from burnout. Until a replacement is found, spread the workload around so it doesn’t weigh heavily on just one person. Or, consider hiring temporary workers to help fill in. Communicate with your team during the transition. Be open and honest, and if they have to take on more work, let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to help. Share with them where you are in the hiring process and ask for their input on candidates when a new addition to the team could impact them directly.
Your plan should also include finding ways to fix the issues causing turnover. If you’ve seen several employees leave, find out if there’s a pattern. If it’s an issue of compensation, compare your team’s salary ranges with other companies in your market to make sure you’re offering competitive compensation. If it’s a lack of interesting work, find ways to make each employee’s job more engaging. Offer training and development opportunities they can grow from. Take a hard look at what’s causing your company’s turnover and make sure your plan includes viable solutions. What improvements can you personally make? How can you help increase employee engagement and build your team? To get ahead of turnover, become a business that employees want to work for by actively working to improve the things you can.
Hire right. Changes occur in business everyday. You can’t always control when an employee leaves. But you can make the most out of the situation by hiring a great replacement that can bring new strengths and skills to the team. Make sure you know what your team needs, and take the time to hire the right employee to fit the job position. Look at a potential employee’s experience, abilities, strengths, and personality. All of these elements should complement your team’s strengths, experience, and personalities. Making the wrong hiring decision could take you back to square one and cause additional turnover, so take the time to hire right the first time and put a stop to your turnover issues.
For businesses that have already had to face company layoffs and deal with heavier workloads, turnover can be difficult. And when turnover starts, it can be hard to stop. Follow the survival guide to help your team deal any with changes that come with attrition.