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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting. With me is my co-host and good friend, JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm. Our topic today is tackling turnover. JoDee, as an HR consultant, how often do you hear from business owners that turnover has them worried?
Well, every day, sometimes two times a day, sometimes three times a day.
I was going to ask you how many times a day, I do too. I do believe that every business owner is worried about losing talent, and it could be just one person. It might be your key revenue producer, it might be your keeper of the culture, it might be just somebody on your team, other businesses who have lots of employees and they’re afraid if they lose a significant chunk it’s going to have impact. So I think to various degrees, every business leader is worried about turnover.
Yeah. And to some extent, we should be worried about it, right, not obsessively worrying about it, but awareness around it. What are we doing? Are we competitive are in the market? Are we creating positive culture? So I think it’s definitely something that business owners and leaders should have a constant awareness around.
Fair enough. Yeah.
Worrying is the point where we hope we can get away from.
JoDee, given the fact that you’re so JoyPowered®, I know you don’t worry! How about we say you need to have turnover or the risk of turnover on, on your radar. You know, I look back on my career and I think about various situations where turnover really was on my radar in a big way, and at the time thought, “Oh my gosh, are we ever going to find a way out of this?” An example for me, I had worked in a large financial institution and I’ll never forget at various times when we were having teller turnover that were, was just incredible, I’m going to say 75% turnover in a year, of who our front line was to the customer. And during those times we really pulled out every stop, anything we could do to try to nail people’s feet to the floor we were, we were trying. How about you in your career, did you ever have any crisis with turnover?
So, you know, I spent 21 years in public accounting, and generally that is viewed as an industry that has higher turnover, but early in my career, I spent a year in the restaurant industry where we had 150% turnover on an ongoing basis. So.
You probably had to go into work each day and reintroduce yourself to the team.
Yeah, that was, that was a really tough environment.
I can imagine. So Mercer, annually, does a survey that includes a component on turnover. The 2018 average U.S. voluntary turnover rate was 16%. But of course, there’s lots of variation across the country based on the industry, the geography, the level in the organization, and of course, the individual employer. Human Resources Today has an article on their website dated January 21, 2020, entitled “Causes of Employee Turnover,” that I thought, JoDee, shared some interesting facts. In the southern United States, the quit rates are the highest in our nation, and the lowest are in the northeast, and by industry, hospitality and retail have the highest turnover rates, while manufacturing and finance have among the lowest in the private sector. I think it’d be sort of fun for our listeners to know what the average turnover is by industry, based on the BLS statistics. Why don’t we start with hospitality?
Retail, which doesn’t surprise me, 35%.
Professional services, 34%.
Real estate, 21%.
Healthcare, which it feels like this would be higher, only 21%.
And government, only 9%.
Who’s going to leave a government job, though? I mean, really great benefits. So some surprises in there, but overall, I think that’s interesting to know.
It really does –
– vary by industry. So the Human Resources Today article also mentioned that there’s, you know, external forces that cause turnover and there are internal ones when people decide to quit. The biggest external force that they say is at play is that there’s lots of opportunities today in this workplace to make a change. We know that employers are dying for staff, right? As at the time of this episode recording, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 6.8 million jobs open in the United States, and there are less unemployed people than that. So if everyone was equally qualified for every job, which we know they’re not, there is more than one job available for every person who doesn’t have one today. So the internal forces are the things that we as employers provide, or don’t provide, and the culture that we allow, those are the forces that they say that we really have the most opportunity to tweak our own practices, so that we can hopefully keep people inside of our workplace. So this article cites a Work Institute research study that says those drivers specifically that might cause an individual to quit are, in order…we’ll start with the first one.
Number one, total rewards. That means your compensation and benefits of course are always important to people.
Yeah, they are. They really are. We say that money isn’t everything. But you know, you gotta have a certain amount in order to pay the bills and to live the way you want. Number two on their list was onboarding. And we certainly have seen a lot of work being done in the world, world of onboarding. It’s how do you take that very happy new hire and actually get them into your organization in a way that they feel welcomed, that they feel like they belong, and really build relationships quickly so that they feel like they are the place they want to stay.
Number three is leadership. So that could be, maybe, the individuals don’t connect with the overall ethics or values of the leaders. But as we’ve heard in earlier podcasts, generally it means that person’s direct supervisor or manager, that’s generally a big reason why people leave.
Yeah, that, the adage that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. It’s really true. If you can’t stand your boss, it makes it pretty miserable to show up every day. Yeah. Number four in the list is learning and development. And I think this is really something that all of us take to heart. The fact is, people want to keep learning. By and large, they want to feel like they’re growing. They want to feel like there’s a place for them to go inside an organization. So it’s important that no matter what the size of your organization, that you invest in and think about how do I help the people who come to work for me continue to learn and develop?
Mm hmm. Number five is growth and advancement. I think it’s important for business leaders to understand on that one, that doesn’t always have to mean that there’s a promotion opportunity. I hear lots of business leaders say, “Well, I can’t give everyone a promotion all the time,” but you can give them growth opportunities. There’s maybe an opportunity to learn a different skill, to manage a different project, or, you know, to become better in a certain area of the role.
And then the final one, number six on the Work Institute list was wellness and work life balance. People really do think about mindfulness and wellness and health, so much more than ever before. So you want to make sure that you’re keeping that on the forefront of your work practices. So if any of our listeners have any interesting stories about how you were able to tackle turnover, we’d love to hear from you, love, be happy to share as a best practice.
As author and speaker Aubrey Daniels states, “If people are not told that they are appreciated, they will assume the opposite.” No feedback IS feedback, but meaningful feedback enhances trust, motivation, and engagement. If you haven’t experienced the power of providing your entire team with immediate feedback that is meaningful, consistent, and transparent, check out Guardian Tracking, a leadership platform proven to support and empower people. Develop a workplace culture that people don’t want to leave. Guardian Tracking will help. Connect with Emily at GuardianTracking.com.
JoDee, I’d like to introduce our guest today. It’s Lorraine Ball. After spending too many years in corporate America, Lorraine said goodbye to the bureaucracy, glass ceilings, and bad coffee. Today you can find her at Roundpeg, a digital agency in Carmel, Indiana, building smart marketing strategies for businesses who want to use internet marketing tools to grow. Lorraine is also the podcast host of More than a Few Words, a weekly marketing conversation for business owners. JoDee, I know you and I have both been guests on her show, and we’re so excited to have her on ours.
Good morning. Thank you so much for having me.
So Lorraine, you have worked in both large and small organizations. Tell us about the types of staff you have led and examples of turnover concerns you’ve experienced.
Well, I have worked, as you said, in all sorts of organizations, and I’ve worked with everything from rookies to seasoned pros. And while you have some different behaviors you have to accommodate as you work with older and younger employees, what I have found is that there are some differences, but the basics, creating a positive environment and respecting the skills and the talents and the humanity of the people in your organization, that’s valued by everybody. And I’ve worked in small teams of three to five, and I’ve worked in my largest team of 48, and across the board, those things definitely hold true.
And so what do you, would you say those largest contributors to turnover are, no matter the size of the company?
Well, I’m going to give you an example of where I think I learned my most valuable turnover lessons. I was working in an organization, we had 48 people, or we were supposed to have 48 people, and when I took the job, there were already three or four openings, and literally, one person quit every week. And I know people use the phrase “literally,” and they don’t really mean literally. I mean LITERALLY. Every single week for the first 12 weeks, someone quit.
It was a running joke. I would walk into the office of my right hand person, I was like, “David, it’s Friday, nobody’s quit.” And he would say, “It’s early.”
Day ain’t over yet, right?
Day ain’t over yet. And so that was it. Absolutely the worst situation that I’ve ever been in, and the funny thing was that nobody around me thought it was a problem, which in and of itself was a huge problem, because they just had gotten so used to it. They were just like, this is the way it is, people are going to come, people are going to go, and that’s not normal. That is not normal. And it is, just it, from an organizational standpoint, it’s incredibly expensive, because we had to have more people on staff to cover the fact that somebody was going to leave. I was spending all of my time interviewing and training, I could never do any of the higher level things that I was hired to do, nor could any of my managers. And things got missed, we would start a project with one employee who would leave and we’d either have to back up, or we’d finish the project and then find out somebody didn’t do this big thing in the middle. So it was incredibly expensive to the organization, and it was incredibly stressful for the employees, because every time somebody left and we had to reallocate, that laid on additional stress on those people, and then they would leave, so it was this just horrible self-perpetuating problem.
Do you think there was any underlying factors that was causing people to leave, or do you think it was just once it got started, people started thinking, why am I staying, because everybody else is leaving?
I think it was both, I think, I think certainly the turnover kind of encouraged other people to look for jobs, but it was also a very, it was a very toxic environment. There was a lack of recognition. Nobody ever said, “Thank you.” Just a simple, “Thank you.” Um, the organization treated people as if they were interchangeable. “Yeah, I know you’re a writer, but we need a project manager, so we’re going to take you off writing and put you on project management.” “Whoa, I didn’t sign up for that.” People are not equally good at everything, so there was no recognition of that, and then you got into the situation where there was a rush to hire, “Oh my god, I have five open jobs, I gotta find somebody who can fog a mirror.” And of course, then you would hire people who weren’t well suited. They didn’t bring the right energy into the organization. They didn’t bring the right skills. And either they would leave, or the person who was training them would leave. On the one hand, you had this organization that wasn’t valuing people. You had people that weren’t enjoying their jobs. They come in every day and “Okay, I’m here.” And it just kind of circled down the drain.
Yeah. So Lorraine, I’ve heard people talk about hiring warm bodies. I haven’t heard that term of hiring someone who can fog a mirror. I love that.
You’re breathing? Okay, good.
So what have you done? Maybe in that scenario, or in other organizations, what do you, what have you done since then to coach others who have had turnover go higher than they would like?
So there were several things that we did in that situation, and a lot of them I still do today. The first is, I had an, a huge opportunity because I was new. I could ask questions in an exit interview that I could not ask a year later, because in the beginning, I was considered an outsider, I wasn’t part of the problem, I wasn’t part of their negative experience. So if you’re a manager coming into an organization, use your new status to really uncover what’s going on, and listen, really listen. And then the second thing is I started meeting with small groups of the employees, not a big meeting, not a, me standing up in front of the room telling them everything was going to be different now that I was here, because I had zero credibility. Not that I’m not a credible person, but they didn’t know me. They didn’t, they didn’t know whether I was going to live up to the things I was promising. They certainly didn’t have that experience with my predecessors. So instead, meeting with smaller groups, talking about what was going on, making a wish list and not, and not making any promises, but listening to all the things and looking for the small things we could change that would make people feel better about their jobs. One of the changes we made was, was working hours. Everybody had to be in their desks nine to five. Well, I had a young mother who was dropping her kids off at the bus stop at 7:00 in the morning. If she could come in at 7:30 and leave, instead of at 9:00, at 3:30 or 4:00. This was a huge thing for her. I had some young guys who maybe liked to party a little bit at night, and if they didn’t have to be in the office until 10:00, and they could work until 6:00 or 6:30. With a staff that big, the benefit was without spending a dime, I increased the working hours of my department. From nine to five, I now had staff that was available to handle issues from 7:30 to 7:00 pm. The organization won, but so did my team, because they had a little more flexibility. So that was a huge deal for them, and it was a benefit to the company. I asked people about their career goals and found they were people who had their designs on another job, and being able to help them figure out what it was going to take to get to that next place made them work a whole lot harder while they were on my team. I said “thank you,” publicly. I got these little note cards, this is going to sound like such a little thing, they’re about the size of a business card, and I still have some in a cabinet somewhere, and you fold them over and you can just stand them up on someone’s desk. And it’s got a pretty, colorful thank you, when you open it up, you can write just a short note, four or six words, and I would randomly dropped those on people’s desks. “Great presentation today.” “Great input in the meeting.” “Thanks for,” I don’t know, “tying your shoe,” whatever, but what it did is it made them feel valued.
And again, little to no cost in the process.
Yeah, I mean, and, and because they were, they’re short notes, I mean, I could sit there at the end of the day and dash off five or six in no time. Oh, the other thing was, and this is particularly true, I think, in larger organizations. As a manager, your two most important roles, I think, are, number one to be a buffer between senior management and your people, because you have a new employee or a young employee and a Senior VP who’s in their face, that is overwhelming. So as a manager, my job is to get in the middle not as a referee, but just to help translate, to help explain, “Okay, this is what they’re saying,” or “You know what, why don’t you give the the input to me and let me work with and coach my employee.” And so being a buffer when they had ideas, going with them to present it to a senior manager, bringing them into the meetings. And then the second thing is getting the resources. We, this, again, this is just stupidity. Every time you got a new employee, they got a new computer. So my youngest, most junior people had the most powerful computers, and my senior managers who’d been there longer were working with the archaic computers. So rationalizing, the computers. Reorganizing. I mean, just silly little things. And all of a sudden everyone’s like, “Oh, I get the new computer. Cool.”
That’s a great reminder, right, that sometimes our new stuff goes to the new people.
What I love about what you said is that you went, the first thing you did is you listened to what was on people’s minds, you know, what was their wish list. And it sounds like you ticked those off, for the ones that made sense and the ones that you could, so people really felt heard, and then they started to see action behind it. But I think that’s a great recipe for success.
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. One other thing is we slowed down the hiring process. I said we’re going to live with, and people were like, “Oh my god, but this job is open,” and I’m like, “Great. What are you going to do if the person takes the job and stays three weeks?”
Yeah, no desperation hiring anymore, huh?
No more, no more. And even, you know, at Roundpeg, we’re a small company, I have eight employees, and it hurts when somebody leaves, it’s, there isn’t a lot of backup. And we still, we, we very selectively go through the process, and are they, not just can they do the job, but are they a fit for our culture?
What else do our listeners need to know on this topic, Lorraine?
So this is going to sound a little bit, maybe backwards. Sometimes the very best thing you can do to stop turnover is to fire somebody or to help that person find another place to be. Sometimes you have someone on your team who’s just so toxic, they’re happy, they’re comfortable, but they’re stirring the pot and just creating negative energy. And, or, maybe they’re not really doing it deliberately, but they’re just not any good at their job. And so that’s creating extra pressure and extra tension for your other team members. And so identifying that you have the wrong person on your team or the right person in the wrong job. Hire slow, fire fast, or encourage to move on fast. And I’m a big believer in that.
Good. Good advice.
Right. Very good. So Lorraine, how can our listeners reach you if they are interested in enhancing their digital marketing strategies?
So they can certainly find Roundpeg at roundpeg.biz, and there you’re going to see examples of our design work and read our blogs and learn a little bit more about us. You can find the podcast “More than a Few Words” wherever you listen to podcasts. And we’ve launched an online digital training program, and you can find that, it’s at digitaltoolboxin.com.
Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experiences about tackling turnover.
Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.
All right. Thanks. Susan, we have a listener question today. “There is a CFO in my organization that I consider to be toxic, and he gets involved in a lot of areas that I feel he shouldn’t be. How do I develop a productive relationship with this person?”
Well, I think you tell him to butt out. No, not necessarily. I think you need to take a moment and think about, does the CFO have responsibility over the areas for which he’s getting involved? You know, at some organizations, a CFO sometimes operates as a COO, Chief Operating Officer, I would really try to just think about, you know, where does his or her lines of responsibility start and stop? Certainly, if he or she truly is in charge of the finance portion of the organization and you are running HR, perhaps, of your organization, I do think that there might be the opportunity for you to go in, sit down, and bring in some real specific examples of times or situations where he or she, you know, maybe voiced opinions or got involved, where you think that there’s some risk to that because he’s not in the chain of command, or she’s not really part of the issue. And you want to make sure that they understand why that is harmful to have him or her involved in something that he or she does not have a need to know. And I think I would come at it and bring specific examples, and I wouldn’t be accusatory, I would come in and I would, you know, start with the first one, say, “I want to share with you some concerns I have, but I’d like to talk it through to make sure I have a good understanding of maybe why you chose to interject yourself into this or into that.” I think I would try that, I would talk it through, I would try to be respectful about it. Hopefully we would come to an understanding about staying in our lane. Now if I felt like he or she couldn’t or didn’t or they took such offense by it just didn’t go well. I would then think about do I need to pull in the CEO or the owner? Do I need to escalate this? Because I really feel like this could be harmful if he or she stays engaged. If it isn’t a huge big deal, if it’s something that I think we can work out on our own, then I would never even escalate it. JoDee, any other insights you might have?
No, I think that’s great advice.
All right. Well, good luck.
So it’s time for “in the news.” HR Dive posted an article regarding workplace loneliness on their website that shared statistics from a Cigna research study released January 23, 2020. JoDee, I have been seeing so many articles about loneliness and how prevalent it is.
A lot of people that I’m reading are writing about the fact that people are so engrossed in social media or isolating types of things that it is causing people to feel loneliness that maybe never had before. Also, as people people get older, they tend to get more isolated. So I think this is really an important topic for all of us who manage workplaces. So the results of this Cigna research study said that 61% of employees suffer from loneliness, which is up from 54% in 2018. So we’ve seen the last two years that people are saying “I am lonely.” The report said those affected the most by loneliness were Gen Z-ers, entry level and senior level employees, telecommuters, and gig workers.
So I think it’s obvious that our first thought might be, “Well, of course telecommuters or gig workers might feel loneliness.” But it that’s not the total population of it. I mean, it can be people that come to work, and work in a large population of employees every day that still feel that loneliness. We’ve heard more about Gen Z-ers or even Gen…feeling that way too. But it is interesting to me the senior level employees are feeling it as well, which tells you that really, it’s across everyone, it’s not specific to any one particular group.
And I think for us as business leaders and employers, we need to think about, you know, how do we help employees build relationships and build rapport with each other? So many of the open offices I see, everyone has on headphones most the time that they’re physically together, right, so they’re not doing that chatting, and that talking, and that bonding that used to be.
Right. Right. And just a reminder for us to be inclusive, be inclusive to all.
One of the things that I’d heard many years ago is if you really want to understand employees’ engagement, if you really want to understand who’s most likely to stay with you and who’s most likely to leave, the one question you ask is “Do you feel like you have a close friend at work?” And if people say yes, they have at least one close friend at work, they’re very unlikely to leave. Well, when you think about this rise in loneliness, I think that you are increasing the risk at your organization that someone is going to find it easier, going to leave you. So think about, we’ve done some podcasts on team building, we wrote a book on The JoyPowered® Team, think about what can you do to help people feel less lonely in the workplace.
Great. Well, thank you for joining us today.
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