How to address turnover issues created by an improving job market.

Running for the exit

An improving US economy might be good for businesses in general, but it is creating new challenges for corporations.  Before the 2008 recession companies had a growing concern about the war for talent.  The recession quelled much of that concern because companies were forced to curb hiring and even cut their workforces.  As the economy continues to gain steam and the baby boomers continue to contemplate retirement the war for talent is heating back up.

One of the biggest issues facing many our Groove Management’s clients in 2015 is employee retention.  Turnover is up across the board.  Voluntary attrition rates continue to climb because the job market has heated up.  Employees are recognizing that there are a lot more opportunities in the marketplace than have existed during the past eight years.  With the aid of LinkedIn and other socialrecruiting tools, recruiters are doing a better job of identifying passive job seekers.  The end result is that companies are struggling to hold onto their top talent.

So how does an organization address turnover and retention issues?  Our approach starts with a diagnosis.  Let data be your friend.  Pull a list of all voluntary departures for the past year.  Include the following sort fields:


  • Length of service
  • Level in the organization
  • Demographic data- (age, gender, race, etc.)
  • Educational background
  • Performance review data
  • Name of manager
  • Department
  • Training and development opportunities provided
  • Stated reason for departure

Using these fields it is usually possible to highlight some key data patterns and reasons why your organization has a turnover problem.  The solution to reducing turnover must be based in this type of root cause analysis.   If turnover isrepetetive within the same position you may have a Churnover issue. Read more about Churnover here.

Exit interviews can be helpful in gaining insights, but they must be structured appropriately.  Too many organizations ask the wrong questions in an exit interview.  For instance, if you ask, “Why are you leaving our company?”  The typically answer is that I got a better job somewhere else.  Instead of asking “Why are you leaving?” try asking “What prompted you to look for another opportunity outside of our company?”  The shift in question will yield a response that is much more valuable to your organization.  Something caused the person to seek other opportunities or to entertain a call from a headhunter. Finding out the motivation to seek other opportunities is the key to stopping others from leaving as well.

"What prompted you to look for another opportunity outside of our company?”  

With root cause data in mind, your organization can begin to create a well tailored retention plan to curb future departures.