5 Common Mistakes That Can Lead to Turnover


You’re going through a typical week as a manager, thinking staff morale is high and you have a team of happy employees. Then, two of your top employees blindside you with news that they're quitting. You’re floored and wonder how this could have happened. Here are some of the reasons you may be facing turnover.

Sometimes employees quit and there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it. Maybe they’ve decided to move, go back to college or stay home to raise a family. However, in many cases, the reason once-happy employees decide to leave has more to do with mistakes made by their managers. Could you be unintentionally setting yourself up for a morale problem and staff resignations? Here are five common mistakes that can lead to turnover:

1. Forgetting to reward when times are good

Scenario: The company proudly announces stellar earnings and profits. Employees assume this will equate to positive changes for them personally, so they wait for long overdue raises, bonuses or promotions. Only, these pluses never arrive. Instead, staff disappointment grows and morale suffers.

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Response: As a manager, you need to make sure employees are rewarded for their efforts. That doesn't mean only when times are good, of course — you can make employee recognition a year-round affair. But when business is on an upswing, it's all the more reason to reevaluate everyone’s contributions to that success and consider appropriate rewards. Research salaries in your area — you want to meet, if not beat, market rates for your industry. Turnover often hinges on whether employees feel they're fairly compensated.

2. Keeping secrets

Scenario:A big change is on the horizon: the company plans to expand a product line. As a result, leaders are hard at work finalizing the details, spending long hours behind closed doors. Meanwhile, employees are growing anxious, wondering why there are so many private discussions. Is the company going out of business or being sold? Are layoffs ahead?

Response: While it may not be possible to disclose all company developments as they’re unfolding, do your part to keep employees informed. For example, you can tell staff that modifications are being made to a product line but it won't directly impact jobs. Acknowledging recent activities and initiatives shows respect for workers and can help stop the rumor mill. But leaving employees guessing about leadership's intentions, especially when change is obvious, will increase staff unease and the prospect of employee turnover.

3. Failing to hire enough people

Scenario: Workloads have been growing for a long time and employees now roll their eyes at hearing they should continue giving “110 percent.” With no relief in sight, they’re starting to burn out and wonder when management will notice it’s time to hire more staff.

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Response: When personnel levels are too low, it sends the message to employees that leaders either don’t care or aren’t paying attention. That can ruin morale. Unreasonable workloads increase employee stress and frustration levels; in time, that can lead to staff turnover and earn the company a critical reviews on online job sites like Glassdoor. As a manager, you can be proactive here. Reassess staffing needs periodically to make sure there are adequate resources to meet current and future demands. If there are short-term projects or if workloads are fluctuating, it may be best to bring in temporary professionals to pick up the slack until it’s clear there’s a need to make these positions full-time.

4. Being invisible

Scenario: With a full plate of responsibilities, supervisors are now so caught up in their own work demands that they no longer interact personally with their teams. Some staff members say that managers are all but MIA these days. Employees increasingly feel ignored; many start to believe they’re seen as just a number and not valued for their unique contributions.

Response: It’s great to give employees the freedom to do their jobs — nobody wants to be micromanaged — but staff still want to have a support system. Make an effort to talk to people on your team, even if it’s just stopping by desks to check in at the end of the day. Simply engaging with staff in a positive way can be a morale booster. Ensuring weekly staff meetings are a priority and aren’t postponed or canceled too often also can let employees know their managers are aware of their hard work.

5. Encouraging people to play it safe

Scenario: You have creative, innovative employees who have made several suggestions they say would improve process or productivity. However, managers show no interest in considering staff proposals, instead saying established policies and procedures will prevail. For many employees, this casual dismissal of staff suggestions sends a message that they're not trusted to take risks or be proactive. Morale declines, and employees who want to advance their careers begin to wonder if opportunities are better elsewhere.

Response: Plan brainstorming sessions at the onset of new projects, listen carefully to ideas and then implement the best proposals. If certain suggestions don’t make the cut, it’s best for employees to receive an explanation so it’s clear the propositions were still given careful consideration. Emphasize the value of teamwork. When employees don't feel respected or as part of a team, job satisfaction can suffer and the risk of turnover increases.

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