Preventing Employee Turnover

By Messmer, Max | Strategic Finance, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Preventing Employee Turnover


Messmer, Max, Strategic Finance


The ability to keep quality employees is critical to being a successful manager, particularly in today's competitive hiring environment. One of the keys to retention is making sure your staff remains challenged while recognizing signals that someone may be dissatisfied with his or her job.

If you can detect the early warning flags, you will have a good chance of preventing your most valued employees from considering job opportunities elsewhere. That said, here are some signs every manager should look for.

Sign #1: A pattern of dissatisfaction. Many signs that employees are unhappy are easy to detect but can go unnoticed by busy managers. When evaluating whether someone may be at risk for leaving a job, look for situations such as:

* Someone known for offering new ideas for ways to improve processes and increase productivity stops providing suggestions.

* An individual who brightened up the office almost daily with his or her positive approach to work no longer displays the same enthusiasm.

* A staff member begins making negative comments to coworkers about the firm or his or her job responsibilities.

Sign #2: Unusual behavior. Some employees may be adept at disguising their dissatisfaction but cannot hide the fact that they are less engaged in their work. The reason is that mentally they have already begun to sever their connection to the company and, therefore, no longer have the desire to give 100% to their jobs.

To help you determine whether a slip in performance is due to a temporary slump or a growing lack of interest in the position, try to recall the employee's behavior in the preceding weeks. While your analysis will not definitively reveal an individual's intent, it could provide more insight into the situation.

For example, assume an employee is usually an active contributor to group projects but has been electing to spend more time working alone. In this instance, he may be taking a relatively low-key approach to distance himself from the job and the rest of the group.

Consider how long the person has been spending at lunch in recent weeks. If it's longer than normal, it could mean she is going on interviews in the early afternoon. It may also signal boredom or unhappiness, two precursors to the start of a job search.

Also pay attention if an employee is using certain resources at work that could help facilitate a hunt for a new position. Do you notice the individual using the printer or copier more often than usual? What about the Internet? It could mean he or she is making copies of resumes and sending them via fax to prospective employers or looking online at other job possibilities.

Professionals who are seeking new opportunities elsewhere may become guarded when talking on the telephone. Take note if someone who is typically at ease when speaking on the phone now appears to be talking in a lower, more discreet voice. …

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