Lack of job enrichment is the leading cause of staff turnover, new research shows, but five key actions can help employers retain their highly valued employees.
The Insync Surveys 2012 Retention Review into why employees resign surveyed more than 11,000 employees from 40 Australian organisations over a four and a half year period, focusing on those who left their job between January 2011 and April 2012.
The research found employees leave primarily due to the job itself and not because of pay or relationships with managers or peers, says Insync Surveys CEO Nicholas Barnett.
"If a job is inherently unfulfilling or unsatisfying it's highly likely that employees will look elsewhere for other opportunities, no matter what incentives are in place."
The survey found employees will leave their jobs because of one or more factors, such as job enrichment, interpersonal, structural, home life and environmental.
To enhance job enrichment, the study recommends employers:
- Measure the extent to which employees are emotionally engaged with the organisation; benchmark how satisfied, proud and committed they are to the organisation; and ensure leaders leverage employees' individual passion for personal growth;
- Offer meaningful work as part of each role and link each role to the success of the organisation; regularly offer exciting challenges and responsibilities to employees based on their knowledge, skills and potential; and ensure professional development policies and processes are fair and equitable; and
- Ensure employees have transparent career roadmaps encouraging and empowering people to strive above basic role requirements; have a culture that fosters the ability for people to openly share their knowledge; and be flexible in how, when and where people can complete their work.
Five Steps to Reduce Turnover
The average Australian turnover rate of 18 per cent costs organisations with 100 employees around $1 million every year, Barnett says, but they can save around $280,000 annually for every 100 employees by reducing turnover by five per cent.
"This should be achievable for many Australian companies as our research shows 80 per cent of turnover is within their control," he says.
Based on the research, Barnett says organisations can take five steps to reduce staff turnover and "make a notable difference to internal efficiencies, customer relationships and profitability".
- Measure, analyse and roadmap - "Some turnover is OK, even necessary. However, when high performing employees are the ones leaving, you must be on top of understanding the unique causes of staff turnover in your organisation and industry. From this, a clear retention roadmap can be developed to set relevant and achievable retention targets," the paper says.
- Create enriching and meaningful jobs - "This is at the heart of the employee offer. Meaningful work is strongly related to mission alignment, enables staff to make a noticeable difference and allows people to be matched with the right job for their skills and interests."
- Accommodate changing life circumstances - "This is the second biggest contributor to staff turnover. It involves both matching job requirements with personal interests and circumstances and also being creative in the use of both short and long-term flexible work arrangements."
- Nurture an inclusive and positive workplace culture - "Employers must help new employees make a strong connection with the organisation, keep the attention of leaders and line managers on maintaining good relationships with their people and invest in building constructive norms and behaviours across the organisation."
- Enable and recognise performance - "Employers must not lose sight of the traditional importance of remuneration, incentives and reward and recognition to show employees that their contribution is recognised and valued. Employers must also regularly review and provide employees with the resources they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively."
Reducing staff turnover is not just an HR issue, the report says, but requires the focus and attention of managers at all levels.
"Getting the required level of executive attention must start with a credible calculation of the true costs of staff turnover and a business case that shows the benefits and investment in a clear retention strategy," it says.
Employers could track the implementation of a retention strategy by tracking staff turnover statistics, receiving informal feedback from managers and employees, conducting staff surveys and conducting entry and exit surveys.
"This feedback will enable the retention strategy to be fine-tuned and for increased or decreased emphasis to be applied to the various elements of the strategy as necessary," the study says.
"It is also helpful to track the return on investment from a retention strategy. This will keep the focus on the initiatives with lower cost or effort and higher impact on the organisation's success."
Other Key Findings
Home life factors are critical for both women (47%) and men (40%) in leaving their job, the study shows and employers should ensure their flexible work policies are targeted to all employees, "not just working mothers".
Generation Y's top reasons for leaving their job are career opportunities and better job offers, while Generation X and Baby Boomers say job satisfaction is most important.